Inconsistent play took some of the sparkle out of the Ridgefield High boys basketball team’s 72-54 victory over New Canaan on Tuesday in Ridgefield.
The Tigers came out flat against a fringe playoff team hungry to stay in the hunt, and winning required an outstanding third quarter to make up for a sloppy first half.
“We weren’t ready to play in the first half,” said Ridgefield head coach Carl Charles. “We were lethargic and we were turning the ball over. Anything we could do wrong, we were doing it. We gave up 33 points at halftime. We gave Bassick 41 [last Friday night] for the entire game.”
Down 33-31 at halftime, the Tigers returned to the court and played like a different team, outscoring the Rams, 23-5, in the third quarter. Jeff Racy, who had eight points in the third quarter, was instrumental in the improved play.
“Coach gave us a really encouraging halftime speech, and we really got fired up,” said Racy. “We realized that we really needed to get this win and start playing like we know we can play, and in the third quarter we came out and did that, and it showed on the court.”
Eighty seconds into the third quarter, Racy tied the game at 33 with a jumper. Jon Hicks then helped make it 38-33 with five consecutive points via a field goal and three foul shots. Kurt Steidl and Matt Brennan finished off the streak of nine unanswered points with a bang, when Steidl, who had 24 points on the night, slammed in an alley-oop pass from Brennan.
The Tigers’ dominating third continued with Racy chipping in a couple of three-pointers. “You know some days I hit more than others and today was just one of those days where the shots were going down,” he said.
Also notable about the quarter was that the Tigers managed to keep the Rams to a mere five points.
“The defense finally played … we played defense the way we are capable of,” said Charles, whose team is now 9-2. “We should have been doing that in the first half.”
Ridgefield’s energized defense led to forced shots and frequent traveling calls against the Rams. “When you’re defense is tougher and you’re quicker to the ball, you’re going to rattle them up a little bit and that’s what happened,” said Charles.
Though the Rams fared better in the fourth quarter, they weren’t able to put a dent in the Tigers’ lead, and eight minutes later the Tigers had a 72-54 victory.
Yet for Charles, the uneven style of play sucked some of the joy out of the victory. Especially since there are tougher opponents like Danbury, Trinity Catholic and Bridgeport Central looming on the horizon.
“It’s a frustration as coach. It gives us something to keep complaining about with the kids, because we’ve got to be more consistent in the way we play,” said Charles. “But the good news is we did turn it around, and it’s a victory.”
Patrick Racy added nine points and Hicks had five for the Tigers. Charlie Irwin, Dan Greenberg, Brennan and Chris Brewi all had three points.
Notes: Playing at home last Friday night, Ridgefield pulled away over the final three quarters to beat Bassick, 66-41.
It was the second win in two nights for the Tigers, who had routed Masuk on Thursday.
Ridgefield and Bassick were tied 12-12 after the opening quarter, but the Tigers then outscored the visitors, 22-10, in the second period to lead 34-22 at halftime. Ridgefield extended its lead to 49-32 after three quarters.
Kurt Steidl and Patrick Racy each scored 20 points for Ridgefield. Jeff Racy added 14 points, hitting three three-pointers.
Bassick, the two-time defending FCIAC champion, fell to 8-3 with the loss.
Eleven different players scored points as the Tigers blasted Masuk, 83-39, in a non-conference game Thursday.
Ridgefield led 24-8 after one quarter and 48-19 at halftime.
Steidl led the Tigers with 17 points, including 15 in the first half.
Patrick Racy (11 points) and Greenberg (10) also reached double figures for Ridgefield. Andrew Barton added eight points, and Jeff Racy and Zach Ward had seven points each.
Irwin, Brennan and Griffin Jones all finished with six points.
Masuk fell to 3-7 with the loss.