Despite a late run that made the final few minutes interesting, the Ridgefield High girls basketball team had its season come to an end Monday night.

Playing at home, the 14th-seeded Tigers fell to 19th-seed Middletown, 51-43, in the first round of the Class LL state tournament.

Ridgefield, which was playing its first game since a loss to Fairfield Warde in the FCIAC quarterfinals, finished the season with a 14-8 record.

Trailing 21-18 at halftime, Ridgefield ramped up its defensive intensity in the third quarter and opened the third quarter with a 7-1 run to go ahead, 25-22. The Tigers extended their lead to six points before Middletown closed within 30-27 going into the final eight minutes..

The Blue Dragons then scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to move in front, 37-30, with 4:30 to play. Following a timeout, Middletown added four of the next five points to stretch its lead to 42-31.

Down 44-35 with 2:11 remaining, the Tigers got a three-pointer from Cameron McClellan and two free throws from Caroline Curnal to get within 44-40 with 1:57 remaining.

But following a timeout, Middletown was able to hit five-of-six free throws to stay ahead and advance to the Class LL second round.

“We kept our season’s pattern of a defensive first half, but saw the game unravel and run away from us,” said Ridgefield head coach Tom DiMarzo. “Emotions were running high, but we’re going to remain accountable and reflect on our actions so we can move forward in the future.”

The intensity resulted in a busy night for the officials, who called a total of 44 fouls. Three of Ridgefield’s key players — Katie Flynn, Kate Wagner and Megan Klosowski — fouled out in the final quarter.

“The prospect of this being our last game brought aggression and excessive fouling to our play,” said Flynn. “We were all motivated and excited but simply lacked the successful execution to match that.”

In the final game of a superb high school career, senior Caroline Curnal scored eight points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Tigers. Faith Arnold, Flynn, and Wagner also finished with eight points apiece for Ridgefield, with Flynn adding six rebounds.

Sabrina Grizzaffi and Klosowski each contributed four points, while McClellan had three points to complete the Ridgefield scoring.

Middletown got 11 points and 10 rebounds from Dominique Highsmith and 10 points from Amanda Fudge. Silvana Barcomb added nine points, followed by DeZiar Rose-Daniels and Ayanna McCalla with seven points apiece.

With Curnal the only upperclassman on Ridgefield’s roster this season, DiMarzo is bullish on his young team’s future.

“If these girls continue with the dedication they offered this season, then the sky is honestly the limit,” said DiMarzo. “They’re all going to retain the assets Curnal has left them, and hopefully carry that into another successful winter next year.”

Notes: Middletown will play FCIAC champion and Trumbull in the second round of the Class LL tournament on Wednesday night in Trumbull. Third-seed Trumbull routed 30th-seed Shelton, 44-20, in another first-round game Monday.