FAIRFIELD — Eight days earlier, when Staples defeated this same Fairfield Warde team by 16 points, the Wreckers jumped out to a 15-1 lead in the first quarter. Staples coach Paco Fabian knew that wasn’t going to happen again on Thursday.
“I knew (Warde coach) Dave (Danko) would draw something up,” Fabian said.
Danko adjusted his starting lineup a bit and, sure enough, it was a one-point game after the first quarter. This time it took the visiting Wreckers 2½ quarters to build a comfortable lead and eventually advance to the final of the Todd Burger Memorial Holiday Tournament with a 49-42 victory.
“I told my girls that we have to be close at the end of the first quarter,” Danko said. “But then we hurt ourselves with some bad decisions and Staples capitalized on our mistakes.”
The Wreckers (5-1) were led by Abby Carter, who had 14 points, Marisa Shorrock (10 points, five rebounds) and Lexie Moskovit and Alva Nordin (seven rebounds apiece). They now get Fairfield Ludlowe, a 38-35 winner of St. Paul Catholic in the first game, in Friday’s 2 p.m. final. Warde and St. Paul tip off at noon in the consolation game.
“I’m thrilled to be 5-1,” Fabian said. “We’re a different program. We’ve gotten better and better every year the last five years. Now we expect to win every tournament we’re in.”
This one was more difficult than the Wreckers 59-43 win at Warde on Dec. 19. One reason was the absence of injured Marley Lopez-Paul, who had 16 points in that victory. Another reason was the adjustments made by Danko, especially after Staples had built a 34-19 lead midway through the third quarter.
“We started the game with an even front line and then after falling behind by 15 we rolled the dice and went back to odd, which is what we started with the first time we played them,” Danko said. “We got seven or eight straight stops on defense so it was working.”
Warde (3-3), using a full-court press, went on a 17-5 run to close within 39-36 late in the third quarter. Caroline Aufiero (17 points, five rebounds) led the charge, but after a Staples timeout, the Wreckers quickly ended the threat.
“We forced two turnovers in a row and scored each time to get it back to seven,” Fabian said. “At that point, we knew we were in control.”
Aleysha Henry added 12 points for the Mustangs while Kristina Krasniqi had eight rebounds and Kirsten Rodriguez added seven boards.
In the first game, Bridget Paulmann had 19 points, Anna Paulmann had 16 rebounds and Paige O’Connell added nine rebounds for Ludlowe.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
While the Wreckers used a balanced attack, this game remained close thanks to Warde’s Caroline Aufiero, who had 17 points and five rebounds.
This was Warde’s 12th Annual Holiday Tournament and the first time the Mustangs failed to reach the final. Burger, who passed away in 2006 at age 49, was a former Sports Editor of the Fairfield Citizen News.
“I was afraid of this game. You don’t want to play the same opponent (within eight days).” — Staples coach Paco Fabian
STAPLES 49, WARDE 42
Abby Carter 5 0-1 14; Marisa Shorrock 4 0-0 10; Nicole Holmes 2 2-4 6; Alva Nordin 1 3-4 5; Ellen Fair 3 2-2 8; Lexie Moskovit 2 2-2 6; Caroline DeLaurentis 0 0-0 0; Sydelle Bernstein 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17-52 9-13 49
FAIRFIELD WARDE (3-3)
Aleysha Henry 4 2-2 12; Toni Lamparski 0 0-0 0; Ava Fitzpatrick 1 0-1 2; Kristina Krasniqi 2 1-4 5; Caroline Aufiero 5 7-11 17; Maya Henry 0 0-0 0; Kirsten Rodriguez 2 0-2 4; Carolyn Mills 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 15-42 10-20 42
STAPLES 11 18 10 10—49
WARDE 10 9 8 15—42
3-pointers: S — Carter 4, Shorrock 2. FW — A. Henry 2.