STAMFORD -- In a battle with unbeaten Stamford on Friday evening, the Staples High girls basketball team could ill afford to let the mistakes pile up.
Unfortunately for the Wreckers, a stretch of turnovers in the third quarter led to three consecutive fast-break buckets for Stamford, and helped carry the Black Knights to a 56-32 win.
Senior guard Erica Stein led Staples with 11 points, while Nicole Bukovsky scored nine and Madeline Schemel added eight. The Wreckers, who dropped to 3-2, were held to under 40 points for just the second time this season.
Stamford (6-0) got 12 points from Kelsey Santagata, 11 from Tiana England and 10 from Maxine Fodiman.
Scoring in a variety of ways, the Wreckers clawed back from a 17-4 second-quarter deficit to pull to within three points early in the second half.
Bukovsky's baseline drive to the basket cut Stamford's lead to 19-11 with 1:30 left in the second quarter. After a Stamford basket, Stein's jumper from near the foul line again pulled the Wreckers to within eight points. On the next possession, Bukovsky was fouled in transition and sank both free throws, making it 21-15 with 30 seconds left in the half. The score stayed that way at halftime.
"We lost our focus a little bit and (Staples) took advantage of it," Stamford head coach Todd Parness said.
Staples kept it close in the first half with Santagata on the bench with foul trouble, and got to within 21-18 early in the third quarter.
The Wreckers again cut the deficit to three points--26-23 on a bucket by Schemel--but Stamford forced a string of turnovers, which helped spur a 13-3 run heading into the fourth.
Staples head coach Ed Huydic said his team was done in by not staying composed under the pressure of Stamford's 1-3-1 trapping defense.
"It was dribble, dribble, get caught--and not pass the ball," said Huydic, whose team saw its winning streak halted at three games. "Stamford's athleticism finished and sealed the deal."
Huydic said that his team needed to make quicker passes rather than dribble into the traps, and not force anything. The Wreckers, as Huydic said, "did neither."
"We needed to maintain discipline in the face of pressure and stay within the system," he said.
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
STAMFORD 56, STAPLES 32
Maggie Fair 1 0-0 3 Erica Stein 4 1-2 11 Nikki Bukovsky 2 4-6 9 Madeline Schemel 3 0-2 6 Ali April 0 1-2 1 Abby Lustig 1 0-0 2. Totals: 11 6-12 32.
Ashlya Cody 3 0-0 6 Maxine Fodiman 5 0-0 10 Brianna Gordon 2 4-4 8 Ansia Fortt 3 1-2 7 Kelsey Santagata 5 2-4 12 Orianna Merone 0 0-0 0 Tiana England 3 4-6 11 Julie Piskin 1 0-0 2 Mackenzie Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 11-16 56.
STAPLES 4 11 11 6--32
STAMFORD 13 8 18 17--56
3-pointers: Stap--Stein 2, Fair, Bukovsky; Stam--England.