While it's just past the halfway point of the regular season, time is already short for the Ridgefield girls basketball team to make a run at the FCIAC playoffs. Thanks to a top-heavy conference, the Tigers are in danger of missing out on the postseason despite being one of the preseason favorites.
After surviving a brutal first half schedule, Ridgefield is confident and poised to make a run at the lead pack, and began its own version of a postseason with a ferocious defensive effort and a first quarter offensive outburst.
Andrea Ferrero scored 13 points as the Tigers allowed just two field goals in a 40-17 win over Staples on Tuesday night. Ridgefield improved to 8-6 (6-6 FCIAC) on the season with the win.
"We came out with the mentality that we needed to win," said Ferrero, who hit a pair of three pointers. "We came out and played together and worked hard as a team. Everyone was finding each other on offense to get the easiest basket possible and that's why we took the lead."
Ridgefield began the game on a 17-2 run that included eight points from Ferrero and five from Carly Mercede. Layups in transition fueled the attack as the Tigers defense forced a slew of turnovers.
"(Ferrero is) a great leader on the floor and communicates really well," Ridgefield coach Katie Reed said. "Her shooting has improved tremendously this year. She's worked really hard on that."
The Tigers grinded the contest to a halt after the first period and each squad had difficulty getting points. Ferrero and the rest of the starters were out for the game by the third quarter as the teams traded defensive stops.
"We did a great job defensively on (Staples)," Reed said. "We talked about at halftime pressuring the ball even more and we did a great job of getting up and coming hard at them."
The Wreckers (4-7, 3-6) allowed just 23 points over the final 24 minutes, but failed to get any offensive rhythm going. The Tigers held the Wreckers to six points in the first half as Ridgefield supplied man-to-man pressure.
"Defensively I thought we played well," Staples coach Ed Huydic said. "We spent a lot of energy there and our offensive shortcomings were evident against an in-your-face, man-to-man team. The only positive we can take away from a game that we didn't score 20 points was the fact that the defensive energy was there, the matchups were there and they were aware of what they needed to do."
It's not very often that a team goes 11 days between games right in the middle of the season, but that was the case for Staples. The winter weather combined with a pipe burst at the school combined to produce the long layoff.
"That was very evident also," Huydic said. "Practicing as many times as we did against ourselves in no way prepares one for a team of (Ridgefield's) quality. This is a team that could make noise in the FCIACs, even as a high seed."
In order for the Tigers to reach the FCIAC playoffs, there is little margin for error.
"I think we will make the playoffs," Reed said. "We have to keep winning, win out and see how it goes."
Staples fell to Ludlowe 53-32 Wednesday. Lustig had 15 points for Staples.