Conway's late jumper lifts Warde over Ridgefield

Sean Conway's jump shot with 1.2 seconds to play lifted the Fairfield Warde boys basketball team to a 67-65 victory over host Ridgefield in the final regular-season game for both teams Wednesday night.

The bucket ended a fantastic night for Conway, as the 6'4" senior guard finished with 40 points.

Ridgefield senior forward Brenden McNamara also excelled, pouring in 31 points to keep the Tigers close.

The setback was only the second conference loss for Ridgefield, which takes a 16-4 overall record (14-2 FCIAC) into the postseason. The defending champion Tigers are the top seed for the FCIAC playoffs and will play eighth-seed Norwalk in the quarterfinals on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Fairfield Warde.

Wednesday's game was tight throughout, with Ridgefield ahead 30-25 at halftime and Warde leading 47-45 entering the fourth quarter. The final eight minutes featured a duel between Conway and McNamara, who took turns scoring points. Conway had 13 points in the fourth quarter, with McNamara hitting all six of his free throws and getting 10 points.

Conway hit two free throws to put Warde ahead 61-60. McNamara answered with two free throws of his own to give Ridgefield a 62-61 lead with 1:27 left. Thirteen seconds later, Conway scored again to put Warde back in front, 63-62. After a Ridgefield turnover with just under a minute remaining, Conway was fouled and converted both ends of the one-and-one to give Warde a 65-62 lead with 48 seconds on the clock.
Senior Alex Price then came up clutch for the Tigers, hitting a three-pointer with 32 seconds left to tie the score.
Warde (13-7, 12-4 FCIAC) inbounded the ball and called a timeout with 18.8 seconds to go. When play resumed, Warde got the ball to Conway, who nailed a stepback jumper while closely guarded to win the game.
“Conway is a spectacular player," said Ridgefield head coach Andrew McClellan. "He made a ton of plays you don’t run across in a Connecticut high school basketball game.
"We were going to double him on his shot and we did double him, and he is just really good with that stepback," said McClellan about Ridgefield's defensive strategy. "What we would’ve liked to do is make him pass the ball, but he didn’t.”

Trailing 17-14 at the end of the opening quarter, Ridgefield began the second period with an 11-0 run to go ahead, 25-17. Warde got back within four points before James St. Pierre hit a free throw to give the Tigers a 30-25 lead at the break.

But with Conway scoring 13 points, Warde rallied in the third quarter to go ahead, 47-45, and set the stage for a thrilling fourth quarter.

In addition to McNamara's 31 points, the Tigers got seven points from St. Pierre (five in the first half) and six points apiece from Jackson Mitchell, Price, and Matt Misurelli.

Ryan Malley (five points), Luke McGarrity (two) and Chris Knachel (two) also scored for Ridgefield.

For Warde, Matt Becker contributed 19 points. Becker and Conway combined for all but eight of the Mustangs' points.

"That was the first down-the-stretch game we’ve lost and we’ve played about 10 of them," said McClellan. "So I told the guys when we take it down to the wire that’s a coin flip. Today they made one more play than us.”

Notes: All four quarterfinal games Saturday at Warde will air live on the HAN Network. The first game tips off at noon.