Perfect Start Pumps Up Stamford High Girls Basketball Team

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STAMFORD, Conn. – Some thought Stamford High’s strong start in the girls basketball season was the byproduct of a weak early schedule. But Tuesday’s 59-39 blowout of a good Fairfield Warde squad may silence the skeptics.

Stamford improved to 10-0 and 8-0 in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Tiana England and Brianna Gordon scored 13 points apiece to lead Stamford.

Warde (6-4 overall, 5-3 conference) had won four of its last five games going into the contest. Stamford made it look easy, leading from start to finish and blowing out the Mustangs with a strong defense.

“We talked about preparing for a team that’s going to come into our gym and give us a battle,’’ coach Todd Parness said. “They did. They gave us what we expected.”

Stamford, however, had too many weapons for Warde – and everybody else it has faced. England, a phenomenal freshman point guard, runs the show. She also makes everyone around her better with her ballhandling, vision and distribution. The result is a balanced attack that is hard to defend.

“They have potential,’’ said assistant coach Curtis Tinnin, the team’s former head coach and a man who has been around the program for nearly two decades. “They have scorers at every position. They have the chance to make some noise in the FCIAC if they come to play like they did tonight. They executed very well against a well-coached team.”

England, who averages 11 points a game, is Stamford’s top scorer. Gordon, Kelsey Santagata, Ashyla Cody and Anisa Fortt also get involved in the offense. Orianna Merone came off the bench to score eight points, and Maxine Fodiman is another threat.

“We’ve had some good teams in the past, but there was always a piece of the puzzle that was missing,’’ Tinnin said. “Like last year, we had Kelsey Cognetta and we had to make her a point guard, but she was really a shooting guard. If we had Kelsey this year, we would’ve been mentioned as a league favorite from the beginning.”

Stamford, along with undefeated Danbury and Trumbull, is a league favorite now. Besides the balanced scoring, Stamford also looks strong defensively. Only two teams have scored more than 40 points. Fairfield Warde turned the ball over 21 times against Stamford, which bothered the Mustangs in the second half with a tough 1-3-1 halfcourt trap.

“We’ve been using that defense at Stamford for years,’’ Tinnin said. “Jim Moriarty used it with the boys teams and before him Herm Alswanger. What makes it work for us is our length and quickness. It’s hard to pass over top of it. If they do they get to the ball quickly.”

Stamford’s early-season schedule was soft. But it gets harder in a hurry, with games Friday at Trinity Catholic and next Tuesday against Trumbull.

The team faces many hard tests in the second half of the season. But with a nucleus of underclassmen, a blossoming star and a little luck, Stamford has a great chance of winning its first league title in 34 years.

“The girls are very excited,’’ said Parness, a former assistant to Tinnin who took over as head coach last year. “We’re going to need that same type of effort on Friday against Trinity.”

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