Ridgefield tops Staples for sixth straight win
A late second-quarter surge helped the Ridgefield boys basketball team earn a big regular-season victory Monday night.
Capitalizing on clutch rebounds and foul shots, the Tigers defeated visiting Staples, 62-51, in a meeting between two of the FCIAC’s top teams.
Ridgefield improved its record to 13-2 overall and 10-1 in the conference, remaining one game ahead of Trinity Catholic and Fairfield Warde for the top seed in the FCIAC playoffs.
“A goal of ours is to win the [FCIAC] regular season, and to do that we have to take care of business at home,” said Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan following his team’s sixth straight triumph. “We out-rebounded them 55-29 and worked hard defensively to combat some of their top players — once we did that we slowed the game down and got it done.”
Both teams took time to settle into the much-anticipated contest. Ridgefield’s nerves took root in six first-quarter turnovers, as the Tigers ended the period with a 10-7 lead on Johnny Briody’s 3-pointer.
But Teddy Dienst’s 3-pointer to open the second quarter tied the game, and teammate Lucas Basich followed with a basket for a 12-10 Staples lead. The Wreckers (11-4 overall) added six more points before Ridgefield woke up and went on a 13-3 run to take a 23-21 halftime lead.
Matt DeLuca began the surge with a pair of layups, and Luke McGarrity continued it with five of his game-high 24 points.
Ridgefield’s lead grew to 40-32 when McGarrity hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter.
“Coming in we knew Staples would be a tough competitor, both skill- and height-wise,” said McGarrity. “With taller opponents it can be anybody’s ball, so we just had to use technique — and sometimes heart over height wins.”
Led by Basich (23 points), Staples closed within 41-37 early in the final quarter. But the Tigers made 14 free throws to stay ahead the rest of the way.
Chris Knachel contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for Ridgefield, followed by Rush with 11 points and seven rebounds and DeLuca with eight points and six rebounds.
“All of the games coming up have huge playoff implications,” said McClellan. “The good thing for us is that we control our destiny — if we take it one game at a time, we can win the regular season.”