Staples eliminates Ludlowe boys basketball from FCIAC playoff contention

The Staples boys basketball team is playing its best basketball just in time for the FCIAC playoffs.

The Wreckers were firing on all cylinders, jumping out to a 15-point halftime lead and holding off Ludlowe, 54-42 on Monday night at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.

"I think our kids really responded defensively tonight," Staples coach Colin Devine said.

Staples was led by senior Gabe Seidman, who had 15 points, six assists and three steals as the Wreckers improved to 13-4 in the FCIAC and 14-5 overall.

The Wreckers held Ludlowe's leading scorer, Kevin Bentivegna, to just five points. Bentivegna only managed one 3-pointer in the game, as Staples defender Daniel Scanlan kept the senior captain in check.

"Our game plan was to really stop [Bentivegna]," Devine said. "Scanlan did a tremendous job denying him the basketball, he deserves a lot of credit."

Ludlowe did get eight points from junior Justin Beradino. Luke Clifford and Patrick Gutierrez each added five points apiece.

Staples also took control of the game right from the outset, jumping out to a 10-2 lead. The slow starts have plagued the Falcons, especially over their three-game losing streak. Ludlowe trailed after a quarter, 17-6.

"We played as a team," Seidman said. "We were hitting our shots in the first."

Staples opened its lead to 15 in the second quarter, behind seven points from Jake Felman. Felman finished the game with 15 points and the Wreckers led at halftime 31-16.

"We played good defense," Seidman said.

In the second half, Ludlowe fought back, behind contributions from senior captain Erik Krumins. Krumins scored a team-high 10, grabbing five rebounds in the process.

Five of Krumins 10 points came in the third quarter, and David Kinsley scored five points in the third as well as Ludlowe outscored the Wreckers 17-10, and cut Staples' lead to 41-33 after three quarters.

"We needed that cushion because we didn't play great in the third quarter," Devine said.

But the Wreckers held Ludlowe to just three points over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, opening up a 49-36 lead. Ludlowe did continuously shoot itself in the foot with turnovers and mistakes. Krumins missed an uncontested dunk attempt with 4:26 left in the fourth, which would have cut the Staples advantage to just five.

Staples' Luke Yeager scored five of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. The Wreckers outscored the Falcons 11-6 over the final 4:53 to close out the victory.

"I think we just did well," Seidman said.

The Wreckers knocked off the Falcons at their home gym for just the second time all season. Staples will close its regular season tonight at Greenwich, and then set its sights on the FCIAC playoffs starting on Saturday.

"It's a great win," Devine said. "We can now look ahead to Saturday."