UNCASVILLE, Conn., March 16 – For eight minutes in Saturday’s Class S championship game at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Trinity Catholic senior forward Iyanna Lops was unstoppable.
In the second quarter, Lops scored 17 points, sinking six-of-seven shots, including three 3-point shots. She pulled down three rebounds and blocked three shots to help the Crusaders turn an eight-point deficit into an 11-point lead.
That was the difference that lifted No. 7 Trinity Catholic to a 52-45 victory over No. 1 seed Canton as the Crusaders (22-5) captured their first state championship since 2006.
Lops finished with a game-high 26 points with a team-high nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. “In that second quarter we had no answers. She was a woman possessed,” Canton High coach Brian Medeiros said. “She is a special player.”
Canton (26-2) led by eight points after an outstanding first quarter that saw the Warriors sink six of nine shots from the field and take an 18-10 lead. But Lops scored 17 of the Crusaders 23 points in the second quarter as Trinity Catholic took a 33-22 lead at halftime.
“Being a leader on the team and a main scorer, I had to do what I had to,” Lops said.
Lops hit back-to-back three-point shots from the corner to immediately trim the Canton lead to two points, 18-16. On the next three possessions, she blocked shots from Abby Charron, Paige Brown and Allison Celmer.
“I just love blocking the ball,” said Lops, the 6-foot-1 forward, who will play at Cal State-Bakersfield next winter.
A layup from Lops tied the game at 18-18 before a jumper from Kiera Fenke gave Trinity Catholic their first lead of the afternoon. Charron tied it with a jump shot but Lops responded 18 seconds later with her third 3-point shot of the quarter to push the lead to three, 23-20.
Canton wouldn’t get that close again.
“We stepped up our defense in the second quarter,” Trinity Catholic head coach Mike Walsh said. “(Canton) came at us. You could tell they were experienced when they took the lead. But we took the punch and came back.”
Leading by five, Lops scored eight straight points for the Crusaders in the final 3:28 of the quarter.
Canton tried to make a run in the fourth quarter. A layup from Gabbie Schinkel and a jumper from Charron cut the lead to seven with 6:26 left in the game. After a steal from Charron, a three-point attempt from Grace Treacy bounced off the rim and was rebounded by Lops, who scored on a layup about 30 seconds later to push the lead back to nine.
A pair of free throws from Paige Brown cut the lead to five, 55-45 with 31 seconds left but on Trinity Catholic’s next possession, Lops scored on a layup with 26 seconds left and she capped off the game with another block with 14 seconds to go.
Canton forced eight Trinity Catholic turnovers in the fourth quarter and had seven steals but it wasn’t enough.
Charron had 15 points to lead Canton while Brown scored 10. Allison Celmer pulled down nine rebounds and had a team-high four steals.
Charron had six points and two assists in the first quarter while Brown had five points and Schinkel had four. But it didn’t last.
“We got a little too happy with ourselves (after the first quarter),” Charron said. “We didn’t really focus and we were not thinking as much as should have. We were too content about where we were and didn’t realize it was only the first quarter.”
This season, Canton won a second straight NCCC championship, captured a school-record 26 games and won their first NCCC Tournament title. The Warriors advanced to the Class S championship game for the fourth time in the last five years.
Still, the Warriors were disappointed. Outside of those eight minutes where Lops dominated, Canton was able to play with the Crusaders. Medeiros lamented offensive rebounds pulled down by Trinity Catholic that gave the Crusaders some extra shots.
“All in all, I am not disappointed,” Medeiros said. “I am disappointed in the outcome but not disappointed with how hard all of them played.”
The Warriors were seeking their first state title since beating Thomaston in 2017.
Walsh won his eighth state championship. He coached the Trinity Catholic boys to seven CIAC state titles in 39 seasons coaching the boys. He took over in December after six games when Mike Martino stepped down. “I am glad I came back,” Walsh said. “It has been a rewarding experience for me as a coach. But the credit goes to the girls. They were the ones who played and the ones that got the job done.”
Trinity Catholic 52, Canton 45
Trinity Catholic (52) Emma Gardner 0-2-2, Kyah Nowlin 2-3-8, Caitlyn Scott 4-4-12, Iyanna Lops 9-5-26, Kiera Fenske 2-0-4, Sarah Jablonsky 0-0-0. Totals 17 14-17 52
Canton (45) Abby Charron 5-3-15, Allison Celmer 0-0-0, Grace Treacy 2-0-6, Lauren Eschenbrenner 1-2-4, Sarah Bowman 1-0-2, Lauren Puglielli 0-0-0, Morgan Walzak 0-0-0, Paige Brown 3-3-10, Allie DelSanto 0-0-0, Gabby Schinkel 3-2-8. Totals 15 10-17 45
Trinity Catholic (22-5) 10 23 11 8 — 52
Canton (26-2) 18 4 11 12 — 45
Three-point shots: Nowlin (T) 1-4, Lops (T) 3-6, Charron (Ca) 2-3, Treacy (Ca) 2-5, Puglielli (Ca) 0-1, Walzak (Ca) 0-1; Brown (Ca) 1-4, DelSanto (Ca) 0-1
Rebounds: Trinity Catholic 36 (Lops 9), Canton 29 (Celmer 9); Assists: Trinity Catholic 7 (Scott 6), Canton 8 (Charron 3); Steals: Trinity Catholic 7 (Garner 3); Canton 10 (Celmer 4); Blocks:Trinity Catholic 7 (Iops 7), Canton 4 (Treacy, Bowman, Brown, Schinkel)