Gibbs, Notre Dame-Fairfield get defensive with Simsbury, reach Class L final

MERIDEN — It was not pretty and it was not easy, but the Notre Dame-Fairfield girls basketball team is heading to the state finals at Mohegan Sun.

The third-seeded Lancers had to earn everything against a determined No. 2 Simsbury team, holding them off in the second half for a 39-28 win in the CIAC Class L semifinals at Maloney High.

“It’s the best feeling in the world. This is what we have been working for the last four years. To finally be here, in this moment, is awesome,” Notre Dame senior Taylor Gibbs said. “To do it with my awesome coaches and teammates is just the best feeling.

“Our offense is different when Kayla (Tilus) and Nique (Mayo) are out, but we had some people step up on defense. Paige Fourtin did a great job locking down 00 (Lauren Sabia) and everyone else who came in did something to contribute to the win tonight.”

Fourtin denied Sabia the ball, holding the All-CCC pick to 7 points in the game.

Notre Dame (22-3) will face No. 1 Newington in the championship game at Mohegan Sun either Saturday or Sunday.

Notre Dame has appeared in six state finals, but has never won a CIAC title. The Lancers last trip to a championship game came in 2016 when it lost to Cromwell in Class M.

Gibbs had 10 points for Notre Dame with Marquette-bound Nique Mayo leading the way with 12 points.

Mayo got into foul trouble in the second quarter and missed much of that quarter and then picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter, not reentering the game until under three minutes remained in the fourth.

Tilus left the game early in the fourth quarter with a leg injury and did not return.

Mayo made 3-of-4 fouls shots upon her return in the fourth, helping Notre Dame seal the win.

Simsbury stuck to its game plan, limiting Notre Dame’s transition game but the Trojans had trouble scoring, despite getting good looks at the basket.

“It felt like we were playing an even basketball game, but we missed a lot of good shots,” Simsbury coach Sam Zullo said. “I thought we got better shots than them in the first half but we missed a lot of them.”

Sophomore Olivia Jarvis paced Simsbury (21-4) with 13 points.

Notre Dame was up 16-11 at the half and 25-18 after three as Simsbury’s defense kept it in the game.


Taylor Gibbs, Notre Dame: Gibbs scored 10 but it was her work rebounding and playing defense that was the key for the Lancers.


“What Taylor Gibbs did tonight might not show up in the box score, but what she did from an offensive and defensive perspective, she was phenomenal for us tonight,” Notre Dame coach Maria Conlon said. “We tried to keep them composed so when Nique goes out we are OK. We are a team and we are not one single player. That has been our thing all year long. So when something like that happens, somebody else has to be ready to step up.”


SIMSBURY 7 4 7 10—28
NOTRE LADY 7 9 9 14—39


Lauren Sabia 3 0-0 7; Amanda Gallagher 1 0-0 2; Olivia Jarvis 3 7-7 12; Faye Kaplinski 3 0-0 6; Katherine Perlitz 0 0-0 0; Alexandra Peterson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 10 7-7 28


Taylor Gibbs 3 2-4 10; Sarah Macary 1 4-4 6; Kayla Tilus 2 0-1 4; Aizhanique Mayo 3 6-7 12; Rowan Houston 0 0-0 0; Madison Gibbs 0 0-0 0; Molly McLaughlin 2 2-6 6; Paige Fourtin 0 1-4 1. Totals: 11 15-23 39

3-point field goals: S—Sabia. NDF-T. Gibbs 2

fouled out: S—Kaplinski

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