Ridgefield serves notice with win over Trumbull
Going into the season, uncertainty surrounded the Ridgefield High girls basketball team. With four starters having graduated — and just one upperclassman on the roster — the Tigers seemed as though they could be headed for a transition year.
Now, however, Ridgefield looks more like contenders than rebuilders.
A 33-32 road win over previously unbeaten Trumbull on Saturday was the seventh straight for the Tigers, who improved their record to 9-3 overall and 7-2 in the FCIAC.
After trailing by small margins throughout the game, Ridgefield pulled ahead 32-30 late in the fourth quarter. Trumbull tied the score, but sophomore point guard Kate Wagner then hit one of two free throws with 1:15 left to give the Tigers a 33-32 lead.
Then, Ridgefield made a strategy shift on defense.
"We went to a zone after playing man-to-man all game," said Ridgefield head coach Tom DiMarzo. "We wanted to give them a new look."
Trumbull (12-1, 9-1 FCIAC) spent some time sizing up the Tigers' defensive set before missing a shot. The Eagles got the offensive rebound and called a timeout with 0.6 seconds remaining.
The nail-biting scene was reminiscent of a game two seasons ago in Trumbull, when the Eagles hit a late three-pointer to beat Ridgefield. But the Tigers found redemption on Saturday, as their slim lead held up when Trumbull's Cassi Barbato missed her three-point shot.
“This was the exact same situation, and their bank shot robbed us ...” said DiMarzo about his team's loss two years ago. “But I just knew by the energy we had all game long that this time the game was ours.”
Defense was preeminent in Saturday's game, as neither team could get untracked offensively.
Ridgefield opened a quick 7-1 lead before Trumbull went on an extended 20-5 run to go ahead 21-12 late in the second quarter. The Tigers then ended the period with a 6-0 run to close within three points, 21-18, at halftime.
A low-scoring third quarter left Trumbull with a 28-24 advantage going into the final eight minutes, but Ridgefield then held the hosts to just four more points the rest of the way.
“We truly showed what we’re made of tonight,” said sophomore guard Megan Klosowski, who helped hold Trumbull's leading scorer, Julie Keckler, to nine points. “This game was defined by defense, and I know personally that when guarding Keckler, one of the best players in the league, I simply had to push myself to the limit, since the rest of my team was as well.”
Wagner and senior Caroline Curnal each had 10 points to lead Ridgefield. Curnal got six of her points in the fourth quarter.
“We’re probably the youngest team in the league,” said Wagner. “So being able to come out and prove ourselves to that extent ... it’s absolutely incredible.”
Klosowski added seven points, while fellow sophomore Sabrina Grizzaffi contributed four points and two steals and freshman Katie Flynn rounded out the scoring with two points.
“They walked off the bus ready to go,” said DiMarzo about his players. “I think they’ve finally learned that if you’re mentally tough, you can get through any adversity. Once they really felt and believed that they could win, they were able to make it a reality.”