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Staples stays in the hunt with win over New Canaan

Updated 5:03 pm, Monday, January 21, 2013
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It is always the goal for FCIAC boys basketball contenders to end up as the top seed going into the postseason tournament. Often, however, such an objective serves as a reminder of the old adage: be careful what you wish for.

The proverb figures to be on the minds of the FCIAC elite again next month when the tournament begins, especially if Staples High can sneak into the field.

After routing New Canaan 68-44 Friday night, the Wreckers are currently tied for the eighth and final tournament berth. Led by senior guards Peter Rankowitz and James Frusciante, and junior forward Darryle Wiggins, the under-the-radar Wreckers turned what was expected to be a close game into a blowout.

"We had a big win in our last game (Bridgeport Central) and wanted to keep the momentum going," Rankowitz said after collecting 20 points and seven assists. "The respect has been coming around slowly for us but we still have a lot to prove."

Staples (5-5, 4-5), which ended a four-game losing streak with the win over Central, entered play Friday locked in a seven-way battle for the final playoff spot as the season heads into the second half.

"Nobody came to play for New Canaan," said Rams coach Mike Evans, whose team fell to 5-6 overall, and 5-4 in conference. "This was not our identity. We took a big step backwards, but give Staples credit. They have a lot of seniors and they know what they're doing."

Rankowitz and Frusciante (18 points) led the Wreckers, who made nearly 50 percent of their shots (28 for 57) and were 9 for 10 from the line. They also out-rebounded the Rams 26-18 and forced 17 turnovers while committing just seven.

"We came together after the four-game losing streak," Staples coach Colin Devine said. "After that I asked the seniors how they want to respond."

The answer came in the form of a 73-63 win over Central and then Friday's near-flawless performance.

"Everybody played well tonight but it all starts with defense," Rankowitz said. "We definitely came ready to play."

The Wreckers jumped out to a 17-4 lead but New Canaan, led by Zach Allen's 13 points, got within eight before falling behind 32-21 at halftime. The Wreckers went up 20 after three quarters (52-32) and then 28 (65-37) in the fourth.

Andrew Read added 10 points for the Rams. Wiggins had 13 points and six boards, and Ross Whelan had 10 points for Staples.

Emery Filmer is a freelance writer

STAPLES 68, NEW CANAAN 44

NEW CANAAN (5-6)

Andrew Read 3 2-2 10; Matthew Swift 0 1-2 1; Chris DeWaele 2 0-0 4; Erik Jager 3 0-0 7; Zach Allen 5 3-4 13; Henry Lavieri 2 0-0 6; Alex Curto 1 0-0 2; Andrew Penchuk 0 0-0 0; Paul Hagopian 0 1-2 1. Totals: 16-35 7-10 44.

STAPLES (5-5)

Jacob Melnick 1 0-0 2; James Frusciante 6 6-6 18; Darryle Wiggins 6 1-1 13; Ross Whelan 4 1-1 10; Peter Rankowitz 9 0-0 20; Joe Greenwald 0 0-0 0; Nick Esposito 0 0-0 0; Nick Ward 0 0-0 0; David Katz 0 0-0 0; Alex Addessi 1 0-0 2; Andrew Felman 1 0-0 2; Todd Goldstein 0 1-2 1. Totals: 28-57 9-10 68.

NEW CANAAN 5 16 11 12 -- 44

STAPLES 17 15 20 16 -- 68

3-pointers: NC -- Read 2, Lavieri 2, Jager; S -- Rankowitz 2, Whelan.

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