Writing a sports column is different than a game story. You are either looking to express an opinion or find a compelling angle as opposed to just describing what transpires during a game.
After Stamford defeated Trinity Catholic tonight, 45-41, in the semifinal round of the FCIAC Girls Basketball Tournament, I wrote for tomorrow’s paper about Fiona O’Dwyer, Lauren Beluk, Katie Pape and Theresa Britt — four Black Knight starters who first were teammates on a fifth-grade travel team.
It became a relevant storyline after Stamford rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit to return to the championship game for the first time since 1979, when it won the title.
Had the game ended at halftime, my column would have been about Cayleigh Griffin, Mackenzie Griffin and Eileen Ornousky, the Crusaders’ three inside players, who were a major reason the team peaked at the end of the season, earned a trip to the semifinals and almost a fourth straight appearance in the title game.
In the first game of the season, against St. Joseph, all three first-year starters looked tentative and uncertain.
Tonight they played with poise and polish and gave their coach, Tom Kriz, reason to feel good about his team for the state tournament and next year.
Ornousky, a junior, had 7 points and 4 rebounds in the first quarter, when the Crusaders used a 14-2 run to take a 14-5 lead. Cayleigh Griffin, also a junior, had 8 rebounds and has been coming on strong over the last few weeks.
The real revelation has been Cayleigh’s sister, Mackenzie, a freshman who ended up with 12 points and 8 rebounds. She had three baskets in the paint in the fourth quarter as Trinity tried to rally.
Mackenzie showed spurts where she looked like a freshman — she missed a layup off a great look by Jeana Trimboli with 18 seconds left that would have brought the Crusaders within a point — but the assets far outweighed the debits on the final balance sheet. She has the potential to develop into a real impact player the next three years.
And with the Crusaders faced with losing star guard Jeana Trimboli a year after the graduation of Da’Shena Stevens, if the Griffins and Ornousky continue to build on their recent play, the program will remain a factor in the FCIAC — next year and beyond.