Will Rolapp has been one of the top shooters for the Darien boys basketball team during the past two years. On Thursday night in Fairfield, he took his game to an elite level.
Rolapp racked up a career-best 44 points, also the high mark for the FCIAC this winter, while leading the Blue Wave to a 74-71 double overtime victory against the Ludlowe Falcons. The senior guard nailed seven 3-pointers and went 7-for-8 on free throws.
“I just felt like I couldn’t miss,” Rolapp said. “Everything was falling from downtown especially. I had a lot of threes, I don’t even know how many. It was one of those nights. I couldn’t miss.”
Rolapp’s performance was consistent from start to finish. He scored 21 in the first half and 23 in the second half and two overtime frames.
“When he’s on like that, it makes my job a lot easier,” head coach Charoy Bentley said with a smile. “He was really hot. There was a point in time where I just let him go. He had 21 at halftime and when we came out in the second half, he was still going, so I just let him loose.”
Rolapp’s 44 points were just one short of the Darien High School record of 45, set nearly 50 years ago by Larry Hart in the early 1970s. Hart was selected by the New York Yankees with the 515th pick in the 1972 Major League Baseball draft according to Baseball Almanac, although he never made the big show.
Hart’s school basketball record will stand, with Rolapp joining the elite company near the top.
Darien, which is 5-9, needed every part of Rolapp’s scoring to overcome a Ludlowe team in a game which took on a playoff feel. The Wave led 30-26 at halftime and 48-47 after three quarters, before Ludlowe forged a 60-60 tie after regulation. The teams went 3-3 in the first overtime and the Wave then took control in the second OT.
“It was a battle,” Rolapp said. “They’re a very good team defensively especially, and the atmosphere was great — they had a pretty big section there. Every possession mattered. We had a couple of big stops on defense, hit our free throws at the end and we were able to win. It was a huge win for us.”
The long game was even tougher for the Wave, which was used just six players due to injuries.
“There was a lot of determination,” Bentley said. “We know we need wins to get into the state playoffs and there was a lot of fire in that game. They gave it their all, battled on the boards and were winning mostly every 50-50 ball. So when we’ve got that going, we’re really good.”
Injuries have been a big factor in Darien’s season. Rolapp missed the early part of the schedule with a foot injury suffered during football, and Wave senior Henry Williams, another key offensive weapon and senior leader, has also missed time.
“(Rolapp is) picking up the slack now that Henry’s out for a little while, and there’s a lot of other kids who are in the background too,” Bentley said. “Peter Bredahl is doing a great job offensively and defensively, and freshmen Mile Drake and Carson Drake are also doing a great job.”
Darien has six games remaining and needs to win at least three in order to qualify for the state tournament. The Wave begins its stretch run at rival New Canaan next Tuesday, with home games against Staples, Harding and Westhill to follow.
“Just keep it going,” Rolapp said. “That was a big win in a tough atmosphere and we’ve got to ride that momentum into next week. Hopefully, we’ll get some of these guys back who’ve been injured and make a run. We can get enough for states and see how it goes from there.”