Ridgefield closes in on regular-season title, top seed for FCIAC playoffs

Chris Knachel drives for a basket in Ridgefield's win over Wilton last week.

Chris Knachel drives for a basket in Ridgefield's win over Wilton last week.

Gretchen McMahon / For Hearst Connecticut Media

Opponents might be able to hang with the Ridgefield boys basketball team for a quarter or even a half ... staying near the Tigers for all 32 minutes is a far more daunting task.

Closing in on an FCIAC regular-season championship and the top seed for the conference playoffs, Ridgefield used impressive second halves to pull away for victories against Wilton last Wednesday and Westhill on Monday.

The Tigers turned a 10-point halftime lead into a 68-48 road win over Wilton and then transformed a 31-25 halftime advantage into a 78-38 rout of Westhill on Senior Night in Ridgefield.

The triumphs improved Ridgefield’s record to 17-2 (15-1 FCIAC) and extended the Tigers’ winning streak to 10 games going into tonight’s regular-season finale at home against Danbury (8-11). A victory over Danbury would clinch the regular-season title and the top seed for the conference playoffs, which begin with quarterfinal games Saturday.

“It’s been a special season,” Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan said. “For us, winning the regular-season championship is a lot bigger than getting the top seed. It’s probably a more fair way to gauge who the best team is.”

Against arch-rival Wilton, the Tigers were ahead 24-14 following a low-scoring first half. After Wilton got within six points in the third quarter, Ridgefield steadily widened its lead en route to the 20-point victory.

“There’s so much emotion when we play Wilton,” McClellan said. “At the beginning of the game we probably played a little too fast. Once we got into the second quarter we had a smarter approach.”

Johnny Briody finished with 17 points to pace Ridgefield. Briody hit six-of-seven shots from the field, including five-of-six 3-point attempts.

Fellow seniors Chris Knachel and Luke McGarrity contributed 14 and 13 points, respectively, and junior guard Amos Grey added nine points. Knachel grabbed seven rebounds and McGarrity handed out four assists.

Eleven players — including all seven seniors — scored in Ridgefield’s Senior Night win over Westhill.

Knachel had a team-high 15 points, followed by McGarrity with 14 points and James Rush with 10 points.

Briody and Matt DeLuca each added eight points, and Grey and Matthew Eiben contributed six points apiece.

Drew Gordillo (five points), Derek Szpakowski (two), Charlie Mueller (two), and Emmett O’Malley (two) also scored for the Tigers.