The Weston boys basketball team pulled out a down-to-the-wire, back-and-forth, tightly-contested battle with Staples High, 57-56, in the first round of the Ridgefield Holiday Tournament Tuesday night.

Max Monlinsky sank what turned out to be the decisive shot, with 23 seconds remaining, to lift the Trojans to victory. Lyle Mitchell had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Troy Flynn added nine points and four steals. Staples got 13 points each from James Frusciante and Pete Rankowitz. Weston improved to 4-0 and Staples fell to 1-3.

The Trojans had a chance to pad the lead at the free throw line, but missed on that opportunity, opening the door for the Wreckers to have a last-second shot at winning it. Staples got a good look but couldn't pull out the win.

"It was an on the edge-of-your-seat type game -- back and forth. Nobody ever had a big lead," Weston coach Mike Hvizdo said.

The Trojans advanced to face 3-0 Ridgefield in the tournament championship tilt last night after press time. Staples faced Newtown last night after press time in the consolation game.

The Weston and Staples coaches both had high praise for their opponents. "They're a very quality team, very well-rounded -- very well structured," Hvizdo said of the Wreckers. "Staples is definitely the best team we've played this year."

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Hvizdo said his team needs to clean up some mistakes, including turnovers and committing bad fouls. "We're undefeated and we're yet to play our best basketball," he said. "

"You've got to give Weston credit -- they played well on both sides of the ball," Staples coach Colin Devine said.

Molinsky said a good attitude on the part of the Weston players was crucial in the team winning. He said, "We faced a lot of adversity throughout the game. We handled it well. We remained positive throughout the ups and downs."

Hvizdo commented that his players did a good job staying focused and passed the tests of showing true leadership and teamwork by pulling out a close win. "Overall, it was a very good win for our program," he said.

Devine remained optimistic that the Wreckers would have no problems shaking off the tough-to-swallow defeat and bounce back with a strong showing against Newtown in the tourney consolation game on Thursday. "I think this team, like in years past, is resilient. We're ready to go out and win on Thursday."

After the tourney wraps up, the Wreckers have a week off before hosting Fairfield Ludlowe next Friday. The Trojans host Oxford Tuesday (Jan. 3).