New Fairfield overcomes Brookfield to reach first SWC final in five years

Photo of Scott Ericson
Members of the New Fairfield girls basketball team celebrate after winning their SWC tournament semifinal game over Brookfield Monday night.

Members of the New Fairfield girls basketball team celebrate after winning their SWC tournament semifinal game over Brookfield Monday night.

Scott Ericson / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW FAIRFIELD — No members of the New Fairfield girls basketball team has played in a SWC Championship game.

Until now.

The No. 2 seeded Rebels overcame a halftime deficit, pulling away from No. 6 Brookfield for a 57-44 win in the SWC Semifinals at home Monday night.

New Fairfield advances to take on No. 1 Notre Dame-Fairfield in the championship game Thursday night at a neutral site.

New Fairfield lost in the 2017 SWC final to rival Bethel, last winning the league tournament in 2015 when it beat Notre Dame-Fairfield in the championship game.

“It feels sick. Think my team really deserves it this year. We’ve worked our (butts) off and we are really excited. It was a great game,” New Fairfield senior Kelly Ford said. “(Our defense in the second half) was more of a mindset. We needed to be in our help, which we weren’t doing in the first half. We switched to it in the second half and we just killed them.”

Ford finished with 15 points while sophomore Caitlyn Rea led the Rebels with 17 points.

But with her team down 25-20 at halftime, it was Ford sparking the Rebels with eight points and a few steals in the third quarter.

In the first half, Brookfield sophomore Catherine Sollose went off for 14 of her game-high 22 points.

New Fairfield was better able to contain Sollose in the second half by focusing on the defense that got them there.

“(Sollose) is a star for them. An absolute star sophomore player,” New Fairfield coach Brendan Moore said. “She made some great backdoor-cuts that we didn’t take care of.

"At halftime, it was about going back to what we do. We know we can be a really good defensive team when we stick to what we know. We stopped trying to face guard her and went back to straight up defense which our kids are really good at.”

Brookfield dd not help its cause in the second half by missing a multiple open looks near the basket and committing several costly turnovers.

“We weren’t getting rebounds and we weren’t boxing out like we were supposed to and we missed too many layups,” Brookfield coach Lisa Schang said. “I thought coming in here today we would win this game tonight and we can’t not rebound and give them second-chance shots and you can’t miss all your layups. That’s the bottom line.”

New Fairfield out-scored Brookfield 13-2 in the third quarter.

The Rebels scored 24 in the fourth quarter, including hitting seven free throws down the stretch to keep the lead intact.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Kelly Ford, New Fairfield: Ford stepped up when it mattered, leading a group of hungry seniors to the title game.

QUOTABLE

“We have a lot of senior leadership on this team with a bunch of really talented young kids,” Moore said. “The seniors really rose to the top for us tonight when it came down to it. (Ford) is a great athlete. Most of these kids are lacrosse players first but we have a great group of kids who work really hard. I am so glad they could get to the SWC finals.”

Sericson@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports

NEW FAIRFIELD 57 BROOKFIELD 44

BROOKFIELD 8 17 2 17--44

NEW FAIRFIELD 13 7 13 24--57

BROOKFIELD

Rylee McGee 3 1-2 9; Jayln Mamudi 1 0-0 3; Catherine Sollose 9 4-5 22; Courtney Sterry 0 0-2 0; Brooke Sterry 1 0-0 2; Mackenzie Todd 2 2-2 8; Graziella Ottaviano 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 7-10 44

NEW FAIRFIELD

Ava Romanello 3 1-4 9; Jadyn Brenneman 2 4-6 9; Kelly Ford 5 5-10 15; Caitlyn Rea 8 1-3 17; Gabriella Arterberry 2 0-0 5; Colleen Rattigan 1 0-0 2; Jordan Siemonsen 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 11-22 57

3-point field goals: B—McGee 2; Mamudi; Todd. NF—Romanello 2; Brenneman; Arterberry