New Canaan Girls Basketball Tops Staples, Earns State Playoff Berth


What a difference a year makes.

One season removed from a 3-17 campaign the New Canaan Rams girls basketball team qualified for the State tournament Friday night by defeating Staples 40-37. The victory was a big one for New Canaan head coach Kim Palmer, who has seen her team win 4 of its last 5 games to earn the postseason bid—New Canaan’s first since the 2011-2012 season.

“I’m so happy that they accomplished one of their goals this year in making the state tournament,” Palmer told “I’m really proud of where the girls are—there’s a lot of heart and emotion and hard work that’s gone into it, and I’m excited for them to take it to the next level.”

New Canaan was led by senior co-captain Elizabeth Miller who scored 12 points, including several foul shots down the stretch that saw the Wreckers all but erase a 9-point New Canaan lead earlier in the 4th quarter. With 28 seconds left in the game and the Rams clinging to a 39-37 advantage, Miller was fouled and stepped to the line, fully aware of the importance of the situation.

“It was definitely nerve-racking,” Miller said. “I knew I had to get at least one of them in to make it a three-point game. I just needed to be focused on getting the win.”

Miller hit the first of her two shots, forcing Staples to try for a three-point shot to tie the game. On the ensuing Staples possession, the ball made its way to a wide-open Carly Lenihan with time winding down. Lenihan, however, was unable to hit the shot, ensuring the Rams’ win, and a spot in the state tourney.

“We’ve been working so hard in practice to accomplish this.” Miller said. “This season we’ve been working together as a team to get this win. We are so excited.”

After a 1st quarter that saw the score deadlocked at 7, New Canaan got some breathing room in the 2nd as Miller scored 7 points—including a three-pointer—to lead the Rams to a 17-14 halftime lead.

The Rams would extend their lead in the third as sophomore Campbell Armstrong hit a pair of threes and junior Olivia Hunsinger added two buckets. Sophomore Erica Smith hit a short-range basket just before the buzzer to make it 30-22 New Canaan after three quarters.

Supporting Miller’s efforts for New Canaan were Armstrong, who scored 10 points—all in the 2nd half—and Hunsinger, who added 9. With the win, the Rams are now 8-8 overall and 7-7 in the FCIAC with 4 games remaining on the schedule. New Canaan has contests against Wilton and Greenwich—two of the top teams in the FCIAC—as well as arch-rival Darien. That said, Palmer knows the trick now is to keep the team focused on the task at hand and not look ahead to the post season.

“We know in the back of our minds that we made the state tournament,” Palmer said. “But we still have Greenwich on Tuesday and senior night next Thursday, so we’re taking it one day at a time and just constantly trying to get better.”

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Top scorers:

NC - Elizabeth Miller, 12; Campbell Armstrong, 10; Olivia Hunsinger, 9
Staples - Tessa Mall, 9; Abby Lustig, 8

Records: Staples 5-11 (4-10 FCIAC); New Canaan 8-8 (7-7 FCIAC)

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