WESTPORT — The Brien McMahon boys basketball team’s identity was on full display in its game Friday night against Staples.

A grinding defense. Eric Day hitting big shots down the stretch.

Both played a crucial role in the Senators’ 61-48 win over the Wreckers on Friday that upped their record to 8-4. McMahon scored 12 unanswered points to jump out to a 12-4 lead in the first and never relinquished its advantage throughout despite several Staples comeback attempts.

“I thought we did a nice job of taking (Staples’) punches and responding well on the defensive end,” McMahon coach Ken Dustin said. “We clamped down defensively when we had to; our guards are tough and our bigs do a nice job getting rebounds.”

Day scored 24 points to lead all scorers and put the game away when McMahon needed him most. The Wreckers closed an 11-point gap to 48-43 with still five minutes to play, but Day converted on back-to-back layups and hit a pair of foul shots.

“He has ice in his veins,” Dustin said. “He’s a great player and lives for that. Anytime it comes down to the wire, I know he wants the ball.”

The Wreckers (5-8) made several key turnovers on offense late in the first quarter that quickly turned a close fight into a McMahon lead. Most of the Senators’ points during the stretch came in the form of easy layups in transition; McMahon scored all 12 of its points in the final three minutes to grab the lead.

The hosts found it hard to catch up from there.

“We dug ourselves a hole and against a quality program like McMahon; we spent a lot of energy to try to tie the game or gain the lead,” Staples coach Colin Devine said. “We weren’t ready to play; too many turnovers and a couple of defensive lapses early kind of set the tone for McMahon to build the lead.”

With many teams in the FCIAC scrambling for wins down the stretch, Staples’ remaining schedule contains teams fighting to reach the postseason. The Wreckers beat Norwalk 59-50 in their previous game Tuesday.

Justin Seideman (21 points) and Sean Pritchett (17) provided the bulk of the offense for the Wreckers.

“After every tough loss these kids have always responded,” Devine said. “We expect to go 2-0 next week against some quality opponents. We strive to be a state playoff basketball team.”

Last season the Senators jumped out to an 8-0 start before sliding in February; so far they remain under the radar with their fourth win in five games Friday.

“I think our heads are in a little better place at this point,” Dustin said. “We’re a little tougher, we do a nice job of taking a loss and getting right back to practice.”

rlacey@bcnnew.com, twitter.com/ryanlacey11

BRIEN MCMAHON 61, STAPLES 48

MCMAHON 12 13 14 22 —61

STAPLES 6 12 16 16 — 48

BRIEN MCMAHON (8-4): Brendan Quinlan-Huertas 5 0-0 11 Matt Saint-Louis 2 2-2 6 Eric Day 9 3-5 24 Aaron McKiethan 1 0-1 2 Latrel Stewart 4 0-0 8 Saikwon Williams 1 0-0 2 Justin Forde 1 0-0 2 Louis Paul 2 0-0 4. Toals: 25 5-8 61.

STAPLES (5-8): Sean Pritchett 8 1-1 17 Justin Seideman 8 4-4 21 Max Sussman 2 1-1 6 Brendan Massoud 1 0-0 2 Ben Pearl 0 0-2 0. Totals: 19 6-6 48.

3-pointers: M—Day 3, Quinlan-Huertas; S—Seideman, Sussman.