DANBURY -- The Ridgefield and Danbury high school boys basketball teams hooked up in a FCIAC battle Thursday night that was a microcosm of both teams' season's so far.
Ridgefield showed its balance and depth and used a big second-quarter run to post a 60-52 over Danbury on Thursday night at Danbury High School.
The Tigers improved to 10-2 and won their fourth straight while the Hatters (5-7) again played tough against one of the league's best but just didn't quite have enough to pull out a signature victory.
Kurt Steidl went 12-for-12 from the line, including eight in the fourth quarter, and led Ridgefield with 20 points. The Tigers got 10 points from Jeff and Pat Racy and a huge effort on both ends of the floor from Jonathan Hicks, who canned a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 12 points while playing strong defense on Danbury leading scorer DanyJoel Harris.
Ridgefield led 36-30 entering the fourth and pushed the lead to 46-34 after a bucket by Hicks off a nice feed from Andrew Barton. After a Danbury timeout, Tigers coach Carl Charles asked his team to play with poise down the stretch, and they did as the Hatters tried to make a frantic run.
"When we come in here it's a very hostile environment and you have two schools that are rivals and want to beat each other really bad," Charles said. "You know you're going to get Danbury's best effort and it was a great environment tonight. It's great to come on the road and win like that."
Danbury never quit and cut the lead to five with about two minutes left on a 3-pointer by Mike Kline. But every Danbury push was answered by Ridgefield at the line. Steidl made his eight free throws in the fourth quarter in the final minute and guard Charlie Irwin went 4-of-5 from the line in the fourth.
Harris fouled out late and led the Hatters with 17 points, all of which he had to work for against the ever-changing Ridgefield defense. The Tigers played a variety of zones and even threw in a box-and-one on Harris in the second half with Hicks shadowing Danbury's leading scorer all over the court.
And while Ridgefield had four players in double figures, only C.J. White reached double figures along with Harris for Danbury, finishing with 12.
"Jon Hicks played what I felt was his best game of the year for us so far," Charles said. "He hit some three and he always plays great defense, great team player.
The Hatters, who had dropped four straight, could not have hoped for a better start. They opened with a 9-4 run and center Jalen McCallum got the crowd into it early with a putback slam and a blocked shot on the other end and the Tigers seemed a bit tentative.
But that didn't last and a switch to a match-up zone turned the tide. Danbury missed 3s, forced shots and turned the ball over too many times, especially when facing a team like the Tigers. Ridgefield closed the second quarter on a 14-5 run and took a 29-21 lead at the half.
"I saw them getting too much penetration out there and I just felt we were going to be taken advantage of so we went match-up for a while and then we played some basic zones and then we went box and one," Charles said. "We were just trying to mix and keep them off guard."
The second-quarter run was just something the Hatters were never able to fully recover from, but they never stopped trying and competed for the full 32 minutes.
"I thought we played pretty well," Danbury coach Casey Bock said. "We let them go on a run late in the first half and they got an eight point lead we never could get back all those eight points. We are competing but we have to go out and knock somebody off. It's pleasing that we are playing hard and playing together, we just have to get it done."
DanyJoel Harris 7 3-5 17; Corey Chaffee 3 0-0 9; Donovan Trimidelis 1 1-1 3; Mike Kline 1 0-0 3; Jalen McCallum 4 0-0 8; C.J. White 4 4-6 12. Totals: 20 8-12 52.
RIDGEFIELD 10 19 7 24 -- 60
DANBURY 12 9 9 22 -- 52
3-pointers: R--Hicks 2; D--Chaffee 3, Kline.