Ridgefield hoop teams silence St. Joseph

At St. Joseph's expense, the Ridgefield High boys and girls basketball teams each added victories Tuesday night.

On the road in Trumbull, the RHS girls easily defeated host St. Joseph, 68-46. Meanwhile, in Ridgefield, the RHS boys had a tougher challenge from the Cadets but still came away with a 76-66 triumph.

Following back-to-back road losses to fellow state powers Career Magnet and Norwich Free Academy, the Ridgefield girls hoop team overcame a sluggish first quarter to overwhelm St. Joseph.

Held to nine points in the opening eight minutes, the Tigers (14-3 overall, 12-1 FCIAC) found their groove in the second period, scoring 25 points to go ahead, 34-22, at halftime. Ridgefield then added another 34 points over the final two quarters to close out the Cadets.

Caroline Curnal led Ridgefield with 21 points, scoring 15 of those in the middle quarters. Julia Middlebrook added 14 points and Meaghan O'Hara had 13 points.

The Ridgefield boys team took a 26-17 lead over St. Joseph by the end of the first quarter and was in front, 41-35, at halftime.

The Tigers stretched their advantage to 56-43 before St. Joseph ended the third quarter with a 9-0 run to get within four points, 56-52, going into the final period.

A pair of offensive rebounds led to a tip-in from Chris Longo and a three-pointer from Brenden McNamara that put Ridgefield ahead 61-52, with five minutes left in the game.

St. Joseph missed its next two shots, and Joe Newborn fed Zach Esemplare for a three-pointer to give the Tigers a 64-52 lead with four minutes left. On the other end, center Nick Laudati made an emphatic block on Cameron Menefee, sending the latter's three-point attempt out of bounds.

Ridgefield took its largest lead of the night when Newborn made a driving layup to put the hosts up, 70-56, with two minutes left. St. Joseph started to intentionally foul with one minute left, and the Tigers added six free throws to stay comfortably ahead.

McNamara paced Ridgefield with 15 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Laudati contributed 14 points, while Alex Price and Esemplare also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

James St. Pierre had nine points; Longo finished with seven points; and Newborn and Luke McGarrity each scored five points for the Tigers, who improved to 10-5 overall and 7-4 in the FCIAC.

"What we've become is a highly efficient team where [the opponent] can't go after one person," said Ridgefield head coach Andrew McClellan. "If you pay too much attention to B-Mac (McNamara) and Nicky (Laudati) inside, then we have enough guys outside.

"We've got enough of a slash-game and we've run good offense against zone, which used to be a little bit of a kryptonite for us," continued McClellan. "[St. Joseph] came out in zone. We handled that really well. We've really become a lot more efficient on the offensive end."

Note: Press Sports Reporters Rich Kaufman and Jimmy Green contributed to this story.