FAIRFIELD >> The Ridgefield girls’ basketball team took a page out of Fairfield Ludlowe’s playbook Monday evening in the first round of the Class LL State Tournament.
The Tigers executed a plan built on pressure, hustle and intensity right from the get-go, something they experienced in a regular season loss to Ludlowe.
This time Ridgefield was in the driver’s seat as they built an imposing 15-0 lead after one quarter and never relinquished it, winning 53-33 to advance to the second round on Thursday against Lauralton Hall in Milford.
“The game plan was we remembered during the regular season that’s how they came out, fired up and ready to go,” Ridgefield head coach Katie Reed said. “They pressed us start to finish last game. And (the) game plan was we have to come out on top; out-hustle, out-rebound and that was key.”
The Tigers (14-7) established a strong inside-outside game in the first few minutes that worked the entire four quarters. Sophomore center Rebeca Lawrence had six of her 12 points in the first eight minutes, grabbed multiple rebounds and added a few blocks. Teammate Andrea Ferrero drilled two 3-points a pair of free throws to score eight of her game-best 14 points.
While Ridgefield had a near-perfect first quarter, Ludlowe struggled to find a steady flow and get anything going offensively.
“That was terrible. We just came out a little bit flat,” head coach Sarah Huntington said. “If we didn’t have that first quarter we could have been fine.”
The Falcons settled down in the final three quarters but couldn’t catch the Tigers.
After trailing 26-10 at the half, junior guard Caroline Pangallo rattled off five straight points and Pauline Blatt added a basket to bring Ludlowe within nine, but Ridgefield countered with five consequtive points and then Ferrero banked in a 3-pointer.
“They just made everything,” Huntington said. “They played great basketball.”
Ludlowe was paced by Pangallo’s 12 points, while Blatt added eight.
Despite the loss, it was the best season (15-7) Ludlowe produced under Huntington who just finished her fourth year.
The Falcons advanced to the FCIAC Tournament, which was also a first for Huntington.
They played hard till the very last and it’s been an awesome season, they’ve really come on and the program has totally transformed because of these guys and their commitment level,” Huntington said. “Sarah Grabowski, Julia von Ehr and Pauline Blatt have all given us so much.”