Warde downs Ridgefield in FCIAC girls hoop quarterfinals

As usual, aggressive defense was enough to keep the Ridgefield High girls basketball team close in Saturday afternoon's FCIAC quarterfinal game against Fairfield Warde.

That defense, however, was unable to overcome the Tigers' scoring struggles.

In a game full of turnovers and missed shots, third-seed Fairfield Warde was able to knock off sixth-seed Ridgefield, 38-33, at Wilton High School. The Tigers will now get a week off before hosting Middletown in the first round of the Class LL state tournament on Feb. 26.

Warde, meanwhile, will play second-seed Wilton in the semifinals on Tuesday night at Fairfield Ludlowe.

With both teams unable to find an offensive rhythm — especially in the first half — Saturday's game was low scoring and close throughout. Following a 5-5 tie at the end of the first period, Warde went into halftime with a 12-11 lead and maintained a one-point advantage, 22-21, through three quarters.

The difference in the fourth quarter was Olivia Parisi. Warde's senior forward scored 11 of her game-high 22 points in the final eight minutes, including several late buckets and free throws.

A three-pointer from sophomore guard Kate Wagner and six points from freshman forward Katie Flynn kept Ridgefield close, but the Tigers were forced to foul in the final minutes and Warde sank enough free throws to stay ahead.

"We were a little rushed ... we missed a bunch of foul shots and layups, especially in the first half, and all those little things add up," said Ridgefield head coach Tom DiMarzo, whose team is now 14-7 this season."We just didn't execute offensively well enough."

Ridgefield's only upperclassman, senior forward Caroline Curnal, led the Tigers with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore Megan Klosowski added nine points, while Flynn finished with six points (all in the fourth quarter) and Wagner had five points. Kate Garson (two points) and Faith Arnold (one point) also scored for the Tigers.

"They have fought all year," said DiMarzo about his players, all of whom are freshmen or sophomores except for Curnal. "We played Warde Dec. 8 and got crushed and lost by 20 points (47-27). We're a different team now; it just didn't work out for us today."