Ridgefield edges Norwalk, clinches sixth seed for FCIACs

In last year's final regular-season game, the Norwalk girls basketball team got a late layup to edge Ridgefield by two points.

On Wednesday night, Ridgefield had only one response: “Payback,” said senior captain Caroline Curnal.

A second-half surge from Curnal was pivotal in the Tigers' 40-37 victory at home over Norwalk. With the win, Ridgefield (14-6 overall, 13-3 FCIAC) clinched the sixth seed for the upcoming conference playoffs. The Tigers will play third-seed Fairfield Warde (16-4, 13-3 FCIAC) in the first game of an FCIAC quarterfinal doubleheader at noon on Saturday at Wilton High School.

In addition to payback, Ridgefield head coach Tom DiMarzo said his players had other motivational reasons for beating the Bears on Wednesday night.

“They knew a win would gain them a home state (tournament) game, and as a result it brought a whole new level of energy into their play,” said DiMarzo. “They wanted to win for (Caroline) Curnal (the team's lone senior) and get one more home game for her.”

Mutually impressive defense kept the score low and the game close. Ridgefield was ahead 31-30 going into the fourth quarter, and the Tigers had a 38-37 lead with 15 seconds to play. Freshman Faith Arnold then hit two free throws — the second after a lane violation on Norwalk — to give Ridgefield a 40-37 advantage.

“I knew that when I got that extra chance, that I had to take advantage of it,” said Arnold. “Our energy was so high and I knew that those shots would put us over the edge.”

Norwalk (17-3, 13-3 FCIAC) had a chance to tie the game on its final possession, but Ajsa Vega was unable to convert a three-point attempt.

Curnal finished with 11 points and a staggering 15 rebounds, many of which came off the offensive glass. Kate Wagner added eight points (all in the first half), and freshmen Katie Flynn and Kate Garson stepped up with six points each. Megan Klosowski contributed four points, with Arnold adding three points and Sabrina Grizzaffi getting two points.

Norwalk was led by junior Ashley Wilson, who scored 10 points.

“We were seeking redemption tonight, and now we need to keep that mentality for our next few games,” said DiMarzo. “If we remain consistent with that level of energy ... we have a real chance of competing.”