Wilton hands Ridgefield its first conference loss

With senior guards Antonio Brancato and Scott Cunningham combining for 57 points, the Wilton High boys basketball team defeated Ridgefield, 73-67, on Tuesday evening in Wilton.

It was the first conference loss of the season for Ridgefield, which is now 10-3 overall and 9-1 in the FCIAC.

The game marked the first meeting between the rivals since last year's FCIAC championship, which Ridgefield won in double overtime before a full house at Alumni Hall on the campus of Fairfield University.

Tuesday's game started well for the Tigers, who bolted to 16-6 lead. After a timeout, Wilton cut the deficit to 18-15 by the end of the first period and then ended the second quarter with an 11-2 run to go ahead, 34-26, at halftime. Cunningham scored 17 of his points in the opening half for the Warriors.

Two corner three-pointers by Nick Kronenberg helped Wilton stretch its lead to 12 points, 54-42, going into the final quarter.

To its credit, Ridgefield made a spirited comeback. Led by the torrid shooting of junior guard James St. Pierre — who scored on a mix of drives, free throws and three-pointers en route to a career-high 28 points — the Tigers trimmed Wilton's lead to 69-64.

On a designed play following a timeout, Ridgefield got the ball to Chris Knachel, who buried a three-pointer from the left corner to get the Tigers within 69-67 with 41.6 seconds left.

Brancato then drew a foul and hit two free throws to put Wilton in front, 71-67. After Ridgefield was unable to score, Brancato was fouled again and added the final points with six seconds left.

Notes: Brancato, a senior who transferred to Wilton from Fairfield Warde before the school year started, scored 23 of his points in the second half, including 14 in the final quarter.

In addition to St. Pierre's 28 points, Ridgefield got 16 points from Brenden McNamara. Knachel added seven points, while Ryan Malley had five points and Jackson Mitchell and Alex Price each finished with four points.

Making his return after missing several games with a thumb injury, point guard Luke McGarrity had three points to round out the scoring for the Tigers.

Wilton is now 8-4 overall and 6-3 in the FCIAC.