Staples’ Gerig, Greenwich’s Nelson lead FCIAC stars named to All-State girls basketball teams

Staples senior Arianna Gerig and Greenwich’s freshman phenom Mackenzie Nelson were selected to both the Game-Time CT All-State Girls Basketball First Team and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Girls Basketball Class LL Team to highlight the group of 10 FCIAC girls who earned all-state recognition.

The CHSCA and GameTimeCT each had different formats by which they selected their several categories of all-state teams.

The CHSCA picked all-state teams based on the divisions each school was designated to play in during the state tournaments which began in early March but did not conclude because of COVID-19 pandemic which caused the cancellations of the end of seasons. There were 40 girls statewide who earned all-state honors from the CHSCA – eight each from Class LL, Class L, Class MM, Class M and Class S.

There were 53 total girls who earned some form of all-state distinction from GameTimeCT, which selected 12 girls each to its all-state first, second and third teams and 17 more girls were Honorable Mention.

Gerig, a versatile 6-foot senior forward, averaged 18.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks per game for the Staples Wreckers. Although she missed her junior season due to injury, Gerig still scored 1,080 career points.

Gerig was selected to the 2019-20 All-FCIAC First Team this past season and to the 2017-18 All-FCIAC Second Team as a sophomore two years ago. She will continue her career as a student-athlete at Williams College.

For Greenwich’s 5-foot-7 guard Nelson, it is quite the feat to make GameTimeCT All-State First Team as a freshman. Nelson racked up 436 points, 136 rebounds, 89 steals and 56 assists this past season and was also among the eight girls selected to the 2019-20 All-FCIAC Girls Basketball First Team.

The FCIAC had half of the girls on the 2019-20 CHSCA All-State Girls Basketball Class LL Team as Gerig and Nelson were joined on that by Trumbull junior Cassi Barbato and Stamford senior Megan Landsiedel.

Barbato and Landsiedel were both selected to the GameTimeCT All-State Second Team, to the All-FCIAC First Team for the second consecutive year and they were also both All-FCIAC Honorable Mention two years ago.

Gerig, Nelson, Barbato and Landsiedel were the only four girls who earned all-state distinction from the CHSCA because most of the conference schools are large schools with female enrollment and are in Class LL. Consequently, there was no FCIAC representation on the Class L, Class MM, Class M and Class S teams.

In addition to Gerig, Nelson, Barbato and Landsiedel, there were six more conference girls who achieved all-state distinction from GameTimeCT.

Norwalk junior guard Jakara Murray-Leach made the All-State Third Team while Ridgefield senior guard Kate Wagner, Norwalk senior guard Belinda Hunt, Fairfield Ludlowe junior forward Anna Paulmann, Danbury sophomore forward Kianna Perry, and Trinity Catholic senior guard Caitlin Scott were the five FCIAC players among the 17 total who made All-State Honorable Mention.

Murray-Leach, Paulmann, Perry and Scott were previously selected to the All-FCIAC First Team while Wagner and Hunte were on the All-FCIAC Second Team.

Sara Wohlgemuth, Daniel Hand’s 5-foot-4 senior guard who scored 1,517 career points, was selected Player of the Year by GameTimeCT.

In addition to Gerig and Nelson from the FCIAC and Wohlgemuth, the other nine players selected to the GameTimeCT All-State First Team were senior guards Asya Brandon of Hamden, Sophe Dubreuil of East Lyme, Nicole Gwynn of Wethersfield, Jillian Martin of Amity and Alexsia Rose of Bloomfield; senior center Maranda Nybork of Bethel, junior guard Azaiyah Felder of Conard, and sophomore guards Aizhanique Mayo of Notre Dame-Fairfield and Shailyn Pinkney of East Hartford.

Maria Conlon, a member of three of UConn’s women’s national championship teams, was selected Coach of the Year for her first year as head coach at Notre Dame-Fairfield. The former Seymour High School star from the late 1990s led the Lancers to a 24-1 record.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced the end of postseason in girls basketball, boys basketball, boys ice hockey and boys swimming and diving on March 10 “Due to continuing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 (coronoavirus).”

Three rounds were played in the CIAC Class LL Girls Basketball Tournament. Staples and Greenwich both won quarterfinal games on March 9 to set up what was supposed to be a March 13 semifinal showdown against each other at a site to be determined.

The state Class M tourney also got three rounds completed on March 9 while the Class L, Class MM and Class S tournaments made it through two rounds and never got to the scheduled March 12 quarterfinal round.

Norwalk won the Class LL state championship and Trinity Catholic won the Class S state title last year. Declining enrollment the last several years has caused the closure of Trinity Catholic after the official end of this school year.

The last GameTimeCT Top 10 Girls Basketball Poll was released March 1 and the three FCIAC schools in that were No. 4 Staples, seventh-ranked Trumbull and No. 9 Ridgefield.

Notre Dame-Fairfield received all 16 first-place votes to be ranked No. 1 and was followed by Norwich Free Academy, Newtown, Staples, Newington, Daniel Hand, Trumbull, New London, Ridgefield and Bacon Academy.

Greenwich, Danbury and Norwalk were the three FCIAC schools among the 16 in the “Others receiving votes” category.

Seventh-seeded Ridgefield upset top-seeded Staples, 50-46, in double overtime in the FCIAC championship game.

Ridgefield defeated third-seeded Trumbull, 41-38, in the semifinals three days after the Tigers beat second-seeded Danbury, 41-29, in the quarterfinals. Staples advanced to the championship with a 52-49 victory over fifth-seeded Greenwich and the Wreckers defeated eighth-seeded Fairfield Ludlowe, 64-48, in the opening quarterfinal round.

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