WESTPORT -- The Staples High girls basketball team kept its contest against Ridgefield close early on Tuesday evening.
The Wreckers, however, saw their fortunes turn in a hurry.
Ridgefield reeled off 27 unanswered points to turn a 27-22 lead into a 32-point advantage in the fourth quarter, en route to a 58-27 victory over Staples.
"I don't think in my entire coaching career, I've seen a team go on a 27-0 run," said Staples head coach Ed Huydic, who is in his 35th season with the program.
Staples, which faced the challenge of trying to snap its four-game losing skid against a tough opponent, managed to fight back from multiple early deficits. Despite getting within single digits in the second half, the Wreckers fell to 3-6 on the season. Ridgefield improved to 7-3.
The Wreckers answered an 8-0 Ridgefield run to close out the first half, and they began the third quarter with a 6-0 run of their own. Guard Nikki Bukovsky converted a 3-point play with a basket and a foul shot, and a subsequent steal by Erica Stein led to a Bukovsky trey to pull the Wreckers within five.
"There was hopefulness on the bench," Huydic said.
For Staples, the game soon took a turn for the worse.
The Wreckers went into an offensive drought, going seven minutes without scoring before Stein's 3-pointer early in the fourth halted Ridgefield's commanding run.
"As the game wore on, our energy level dropped," Huydic said, "and this team (Ridgefield) turned on some transition basketball and went on a monumental run.
"I think transition worked really well for us," Ridgefield head coach Katie Reed said. "I think, all of a sudden, (we) realized that we could run. The defense was the story though. We shut them down."
Carpenter and Maggie Scalzo led the way with game-changing steals, which were turned into fast-break points.
Huydic said that Ridgefield spread out its man-to-man defense midway through the game, and he thought that would benefit his team. It didn't, however.
After Ridgefield started its run with a 7-0 spurt, the Wreckers called timeout with the score 34-22 with 4:03 left in the third. Right out of the break, Scalzo came up with a steal and turned it into two points. Ferrero and Carly Mercede followed with consecutive 3-pointers. The Wreckers scored just 11 points in the second half.
"When pressure comes we sometimes don't know what to do with the ball. We need to take it slow and do our own thing," Bukovsky said.
Bukovsky scored 13 points and Stein added 10 for the Wreckers.
Staples fell behind 17-8 early in the second quarter but closed to within five midway through the second. The Wreckers trailed 25-16 at the half.
"Three times we closed within four or five points. That was indicative of some of the energy that we showed," Huydic said.
The energy didn't last long enough, however.
"It's just not enough depth and not enough consistent scoring," Huydic added.
Despite the loss, Huydic was pleased to see his players put forth a strong effort.
"Execution was lacking but the drive and effort wasn't," he said.
"We all have fight in us. We're not going to go down without trying," Bukovsky added.
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
RIDGEFIELD 58, STAPLES 27
Andrea Ferrero 4 2-3 11 Maggie Scalzo 3 1-1 7 Samarah Cook 0 0-0 0 Maddie Wiley 0 0-0 0 Rebecca Lawrence 4 2-2 10 Carly Mercede 2 2-2 7 Andrea Bedard 2 3-4 7 Sandra Carpenter 4 1-1 9 Paige Andrews 1 0-0 2 Emma Glubiak 2 1-2 5. Totals: 22 12-15 58.
Ali April 0 0-0 0 Erica Stein 4 1-1 10 Nikki Bukovsky 4 3-5 13 Maggie Fair 0 0-0 0 Madeline Schemel 1 0-0 2 Kelsey Bobrow 0 0-0 0 Sophie DeBruin 0 0-2 0 Abby Lustig 1 0-0 2 Fallon Bottone 0 0-0 0 Meredith Bemus 0 0-0 0 Dayna Gelman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 10 4-8 27.
RIDGEFIELD 14 11 21 12--58
STAPLES 8 8 6 5--27
3-pointers: R--Ferrero, Mercede. S--Stein, Bukovsky 2.