NEW CANAAN — Stamford girls basketball coach Diane Burns said she has been stressing her team’s full court pressure the past couple weeks.
Friday, that preparation paid off in a big way.
Working off that press, the Black Knights defense downed New Canaan 40-16 on the road.
“That’s been great for us so far this year,” Burns said of the press defense. “Just containing the basketball and slowing the pace for the other team while trying to create turnovers. I was happy with how that looked tonight.”
Stamford allowed just three points in the first quarter, two in the second and two in the third. In that time, the Knights offense was able to grab a 31-7 lead.
“Communication is the biggest thing with us right now defensively,” Burns said. “They did a great job tonight talking to each other, covering the middle, covering shooters, so I was happy with that.”
Stamford (6-3, 4-2 FCIAC) pressured the ball with relentless tenacity all night, forcing the Rams (3-7, 2-6) into poor decisions.
“They picked up man-to-man and had good ball pressure,” New Canaan coach John Winchester said. “I try to tell them most importantly, stay calm. How you beat pressure is by attacking it. If you dribble around looking to pass the ball instead of attacking the hoop, it’s making the defense even better. So, how you beat pressure is attack it.”
With 3:57 left in the contest, New Canaan’s Reilly Krug hit a 3-pointer. Despite being down 25 points, it put the Rams into a double-digits in the contest — a small, but tangible victory.
After scoring seven total points in the first three quarters, the Rams tallied nine in the fourth.
“We did a little better in the second half in spots,” Winchester said. “We attacked. I think we got better.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Brooke Kelly, Stamford. The senior guard led the Knights with nine points on the night, all in the first half, to separate Stamford early.
“She’s one of our senior captains,” Burns said. “She’s an awesome kid, awesome player, and she’s been playing great defense lately and it fuels her offense. She did a great job tonight and really set the tone for us.”
Finding quality bigs can be a challenge in this level of girls basketball, but the Knights have no shortage as several players — led by senior Andrea O’Connor and her eight points — are capable of having success in the post.
“We’re very lucky,” Burns said. “I don’t know where they keep coming from, but I’ll keep taking them. They’re young too. I was proud of them tonight.”
“Stamford High is a good team,” Winchester said. “I try to tell my girls there’s an intensity level you have to play at, and then you have to make plays. To give yourself a shot to win, you have to play hard. I think our girls finished off the game well and they didn’t quit, that’s what I was happy about.”
STAMFORD 40, NEW CANAAN 16
STAMFORD (6-3, 4-2 FCIAC)
Andrea O’Connor 4 0-1 8; Megan Landsiedel 2 0-0 4; Jessica Nelson 4 0-1 8; Aviluz Vargas 0 1-2 1; Kelly Jagodzinski 1 0-0 2; Claudia Moses 1 0-0 2; Emily Graham 0 1-2 1; Dina Merone 0 2-6 2; Brooke Kelly 2 3-5 9; Jasmine Malcolm 0 1-2 1. Totals: 14 8-18 40.
NEW CANAAN (3-7, 2-6 FCIAC)
Maeve Selvaggi 1 0-0 3; Riana Afshar 0 1-2 1; Kearney McKiernan 0 1-1 1; Leigh Charlton 1 2-6 4; Quinn McKiernan 1 0-0 2; Eliza Pohle 1 0-0 2; Caity Blair 0 0-1 0; Reilly Krug 1 0-0 3. Totals: 5 4-10 16.
STAMFORD 13 11 7 9—40
NEW CANAAN 3 2 2 9—40
3-pointers: S—Kelly 2; NC—Selvaggi, Krug.