Ridgefield tops Trinity Catholic for third FCIAC boys hoop title in four years
WILTON — History was cloaked in orange and black.
The Ridgefield boy’s basketball program captured its third FCIAC title in four years by outlasting Trinity Catholic, 63-58, in the conference championship final Thursday night at Wilton’s Zeoli Fieldhouse.
“We’ve won three titles in four years and each championship has been better than the last one,” Ridgefield senior tri-captain Johnny Briody said as he held his FCIAC Tournament MVP plaque in his hands. “To win this title as a senior is so special. I love every guy on this team. There are no standouts. We all just do it together.”
Ridgefield’s rotation of nine kept grinding away for 32 minutes to put the ribbon on the quest for the No. 1 seeded Tigers (21-2 overall).
There was balance in Ridgefield’s offense. Briody knocked down five 3-pointers for his 15 points. Senior tri-captain Luke McGarrity had 10 of his 12 points in the second half, including four free throws in the final 3 minutes, 48 seconds.
Senior James Rush also had 15 points, including two of Ridgefield’s eight 3-pointers on the night. Senior tri-captain Chris Knachel added 10.
It was quite a performance for a Tigers squad that lost to Trinity Catholic by 29 points in the regular season. Since then, both teams were on fire, entering Thursday night with matching 13-game win streaks.
“We weren’t ready to deal with Trinity Catholic’s athleticism that first meeting,” Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan said. “We needed to be ready and confident and to believe in ourselves tonight. You saw that from the start.”
Ridgefield used a closing 18-2 surge and had six 3-pointers to build a 24-13 cushion after one period. The Tigers led 32-27 at halftime and 49-39 after three quarters.
Trinity Catholic (17-6 overall), playing its final FCIAC boys basketball contest ever as the school is closing at the end of this academic year, made its move toward a seventh FCIAC title and first since 2008.
At 50-39 with 7:25 left to play, a 10-0 run capped by two free throws from Malcolm Newman (game-high 17 points, but just three in second half) brought the Crusaders to 50-49 with 5:06 remaining.
But Trinity Catholic would get no closer. Although a potential game-tying tip-in by Akim Joseph with 2:59 left was waved off as offensive basket interference in the cylinder.
Down by four points, Trinity Catholic missed free throws and had a turnover at 59.4 to seal the triumph for Ridgefield.
Trinity Catholic, which basically plays a six-man rotation, had its tall frontline sitting on the bench for too long due to foul trouble. The Crusaders were whistled for a plethora of offensive fouls.
“Ridgefield’s six 3-pointers early were too tough a mountain to climb,” Trinity Catholic coach Brian Kriftcher said. “Briody is a tremendous shooter. He was tonight’s MVP with good reason. We battled but Ridgefield is so disciplined. It’s tough playing them from behind.”
Besides Newman, Rahsen Fisher (13 points) and Joseph (14, 8 of 9 free throws) were in double figures for the Crusaders. Rassoul Abakan added eight points in limited minutes.
“Ridgefield executed better than we did. They outtoughed us. And their depth helped them,” TC’s Newman said. “We didn’t stop their 3-pointers early. And I rushed too many shots in the second half.”
In the end, Ridgefield’s orange and black championship pedigree won the evening.
“Three FCIAC titles. Two FCIAC regular season championships. I’m so proud and so impressed where the kids have taken this program,” McClellan said. “This team weathered a lot of storms this season. And the seniors are great leaders. They show the others the right way to approach the game of basketball. After Trinity Catholic closed to 50-49, the kids got their feet on the ground and executed possession after possession.”
Resulting in yet another celebration for the orange and black.
FCIAC BOYS BASKETBALL FINAL
RIDGEFIELD 63, TRINITY CATHOLIC 58
TRINITY CATHOLIC 13 14 12 19—58
RIDGEFIELD 24 8 17 14 —63
TRINITY CATHOLIC (17-6 overall)
Akim Joseph 3 8-9 14 Malcolm Newman 6 3-4 17 Rassoul Abakan 4 0-0 8 Rahsen Fisher 6 1-3 13 Andrew Saint-Louis 2 1-1 6 Brandon Louis 0 0-0 0 Tahj Morgan 0 0-0 0 Matt Dougherty 0 0-0 0. Totals:21 13-18 58.
RIDGEFIELD (21-2 overall)
Chris Knachel 5 0-4 10 Matt DeLuca 2 0-0 4 Johnny Briody 5 0-0 15 Luke McGarrity 4 4-8 12 Jason Hartnett 0 0-0 0 James Rush 6 1-2 15 Emmett O’Malley 1 0-0 2 Amos Grey 1 0-0 2 Matt Knachel 1 0-0 3. Totals:25 5-14 63.