RIDGEFIELD – Ridgefield has added two FCIAC girls’ basketball playoff victories to a perfect 12-0 regular season. As the defending league champion, Ridgefield coach Rob Coloney know how precarious that No. 1 status can be heading into the conference semifinals on Wednesday.
Seeded 7th a year ago, Ridgefield defeated top-seeded Staples 50-46 in double overtime to earn its first FCIAC title since 2015. It earned a berth in this year’s semis with a 61-36 win against No. 8 Warde (8-6).
“There are so many talented teams I think seeds don’t really matter. We respect our opponents,” Coloney said. “We caught fire the end of last year and I believe the four teams that are left are peaking at the right time. The advantage we afforded ourselves this year is that we can play our games at home.”
Ridgefield (14-0) will host fifth-seeded St. Joseph (11-3) in at 7. Seventh-seeded Danbury (9-4) will visit third-seeded Trumbull (12-2) at 5.
“Ridgefield is the best team in the league, no doubt about it,” said St. Joseph coach Chis Lindwall, whose Cadets won 37-32 over No. 4 seed Ludlowe (11-3) in the quarterfinals. “Katie Flynn, Cali Steitzel and Kelly Chittenden are three players we have to slow down. Our players must all play their A-plus game. Against Ludlowe, we played great defense and rebounded the ball well. It was a B-plus game because we didn’t play well offensively. We can’t do that against Ridgefield. We must score some points. We must be able to break their pressure.”
Coloney has game-planned for St. Joseph.
“I feel our teams are polar-opposites. We press to turn you over; they press to slow you down. They like to work the ball inside to the bigs and let that open up their outside,” Coloney said. “We don’t have that traditional center. For us to have success on Wednesday we need to make sure our help defense in the half-court is in good shape. We have to identify where their bigs are setting up and we must rebound.”
Another concern for Coloney is locating St. Joseph’s 3-point shooters“They have success off rebounds and kicking it out to open shooters. You have to flood the paint and get a body on someone, then elevate and grab the ball,” Coloney said. “When you don’t grab the ball, you have to identify a shooter and close out. I think that is the best time to shoot a three is off an offensive rebound. We will have our hands full. I’m not sad that Chris has to take that hour-and-a-half bus ride. We must be locked in and focused and dominate the details to be successful on Wednesday.”
DANBURY vs. TRUMBULL
“The key against Stamford was our focus on defense,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said after his Eagles’ 55-27 win over the No. 6 seeded Black Knights (9-5). “The girls understood the importance of defense, the scouting report, and played incredible. It is what we will need to stop Danbury.”
Danbury coach Jackie DiNardo is also looking for her squad to take something away from their 47-30 quarterfinal win against No. 2 seeded Staples (11-3).
“We led by 10 points when Staples made a run to get within one,” said DiNardo, who has garnered 530 wins in her 34 seasons (only 3 non-winning campaigns). “I looked at the stat sheet at the half and saw that Tianna Rogers had three touches, one on a rebound. I told the girls that they had to get Tianna the ball. To open the third quarter Rogers got the ball and scored. Once they get the big girls scoring the ball, they are going to get their shots because they have to play the big girl.”
Danbury played Trumbull in its last regular season game. Trumbull won 62-43.
DiNardo said: “We played two and a half quarters of good ball and were ahead. Then with about three minutes left in the third quarter, Cassi Barbato put on a shooting clinic for them and ended up with 33 points (8 three-pointers). She is a great player. It didn’t matter if we were on her or off her. She could have kicked it and it would have gone in.”
Tobitsch said: “I think playing that game definitely benefitted both teams. I think we will have to do some different things the second time around just as I’m sure Coach DiNardo will as well. It should be a great game. We will have to slow Kianna Perry and Tianna Rogers.”
Ridgefield (1992, 1996, 2015, 2020) and Trumbull (2005, 2011, 2017, 2018) have won four FCIAC titles, Danbury (2011, 2012, 2013) three and St. Joseph one (2010).
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