Having dropped three of its previous four games, the Norwalk boys basketball team was sliding in the opposite direction ahead of the FCIAC playoffs.

The push towards the playoffs began Monday for the Bears, who officially clinched a playoff spot, but also geared up for the tournament with a 70-60 win over visiting Staples. Roy Kane Jr. had 24 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Bears, who forced 17 turnovers in the first half and converted layup after layup.

"Our defense got us this win," Kane Jr. said. "We got deflections and steals that led us to easy buckets and layups."

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Norwalk (14-5, 12-5 FCIAC) used excellent ball movement on offense when necessary, as its size advantage with Kane and AJ Jerome (eight points) paid dividends inside.

"When we pass and share like that we are tough to beat," Norwalk coach Tom Keyes said. "It was beautiful to watch us be that unselfish."

Staples was unable to close the gap to single digits at any point during the second half. The Wreckers closed an early 11-point gap to five late in the second period before Norwalk turned on the jets with a 12-2 run in the final 2:30 to take a 40-25 halftime lead.

"Anytime we made a cut into their lead we gave up an easy shot or had a turnover," Staples coach Colin Devine said. "We would shoot in ourselves in the foot with a turnover or bad possession."

A layup by Nick Esposito (18 points) gave the Wreckers hope at 54-44 with 6:37 left, but Norwalk called a timeout and responded with an 11-3 run to put the game out of reach. Kane slammed home a dunk late in the contest.

The Wreckers got a game-high 25 points from Ben Casparius, who hit seven 3-pointers. The sophomore sharpshooter also hit seven triples in a heartbreaking one-point loss to Bridgeport Central last Wednesday.

"He has ice in his veins, he doesn't back down from anyone in any situation," Devine said. "He's a great shooter for us and will continue to be one in the future."

Staples has dropped five straight games since clinching a state playoff berth Feb. 6.

The Bears have one game left, at home against Darien Wednesday, before beginning preparations for the FCIAC playoffs Saturday.

"As a coach you hope that the switch is always turned on," Keyes said. "The kids are doing a good job and hopefully we'll come out and play like we did tonight on Saturday."

Norwalk 70, Staples 60

Staples (8-10, 7-10 FCIAC)

Nic Esposito 9 0-2 18 Connor Whelan 4 0-0 9 Ben Casparius 9 0-0 25 Harry Kohn 1 0-0 3 Justin Seideman 2 0-0 4 Sean Pritchett 0 1-2 1 Dylan Dreyfuss 0 0-0 0 Fred Hertan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 1-4 60.

Norwalk (14-5, 12-5 FCIAC)

Zaire Wilson 2 1-2 5; Roy Kane Jr. 11 2-3 24; Jeremy Linton 3 0-0 9; Tommy Barrett 4 2-4 10; Matt Jarrett 4 0-0 8 Bryant Bracey 2 0-0 4 Davonte Thomas 1 0-0 2 AJ Jarome 4 0-0 8. Totals: 31 5-9 70.

STAPLES 7 18 17 18--60

NORWALK 17 23 14 16--70

3-pointers: S--Casparius 7, Kohn, Whelan; N--Linton 3.