WESTPORT — Staples has relied on its defensive intensity all season long, and it did so once again Tuesday night.
The Wreckers stifled the offensive attack from Westhill, as they knocked off the Vikings at home 62-33.
“The next four games is a big stretch for our season,” Staples coach Paco Fabian said. “And tonight was a good night to build some confidence.”
Staples forced Westhill into several poor possession and created turnovers with a consistently swarming full-court press defense.
After going on an 11-0 run in the first quarter, the Wreckers continued the tough defense and used it to create easy opportunities on the offensive end.
Elle Fair finished with a game-high 17 points and also had four steals to lead the Wreckers, while Arianna Gerig fought through some second-half foul trouble to add 14 points.
“We all want to win so badly,” Gerig said. “We’ll do whatever we can to put the team first and get the win.”
Westhill fell down early, but the Vikings came out in the second half with a noticeable focus on the defensive side of the ball as they held Staples to 10 points in the quarter and cut the lead to 15 points right before the fourth quarter.
“We told them at the half,” Westhill coach Katherine Begetis said, “that we had made a lot of mistakes and that let Staples get the momentum going. So the good news was that was something we could control. So go out there and clean up the offensive side and allow the defensive intensity to become the propeller.”
Peyton Hackett led the way with a team-high 11 points, two steals, and a pair of blocks as the Vikings fought back in the second half.
But Staples proved to be too much in the end, outscoring Westhill 28-16 after halftime.
“We have to continue to want it more than anything,” Gerig said. “We came in as a sleeper and that’s been our motto. Now that we’re on top, we have to remember that we’re still here to win.”
CONTINUING TO IMPROVE
Although the record has indicated a tough year for the Vikings, Begetis said she is proud of the continued effort and drive her team has played with as the season progresses.
“This group has done a remarkable job at keeping their spirits high and keeping their work ethic high and never giving up. I think at this point in the season a lot of teams wouldn’t stay as hungry as our kids keep playing. So we just want them to keep battling every possession and every minute they’re out there and keep learning every step of the way.”
STILL THE UNDERDOGS
Despite only losing twice in the FCIAC this season — to the top two teams in the conference — Fabian said his team still plays with a dark horse mentality and is going out to prove something each and every game.
“Even though we’re third in the FCIAC right now, no one is really respecting us. We’ve only lost to Norwalk and Trumbull, which are by far the two best teams, and we think we’ve had a phenomenal year. So we keep trying to prove everybody wrong. Inside our own locker room, we believe we’re one of the best teams and we don’t care what other people think.”
STAPLES 62, WESTHILL 33
WESTHILL 6 11 10 6—33
STAPLES 18 16 10 18—62
WESTHILL (1-13, 1-11 FCIAC)
Maddy Bautista 1 0-0 2 Peyton Hackett 4 3-4 11 Grace Hansen 4 1-2 8 Samantha Johns-Folkes 3 2-4 8 Tamar Bellete 1 0-0 2 Meghan Lavelle 0 0-0 0 Nia Holley 0 0-0 0 Vana Servos 0 0-0 0 Avrianna Diaz 0 0-0 0 Caroline Kollar 1 0-0 2 Candese Osborne 0 0-0 0 Dulce llanos 0 0-0 0 Davina Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 6-10 33.
STAPLES (13-3, 13-2 FCIAC)
Arianna Gerig 5 4-4 14, Marisa Shorrock 5 0-1 10, Isa Didio 1 0-0 2, Elle Fair 6 1-2 17, Amanda Troelstra 1 0-0 2, Nicole Dienst 1 0-0 3, Sophie Smith 0 0-0 0, Marley Lopez-Paul 1 0-0 2, Kate Rutter 2 0-0 4, Nicole Holmes 1 0-0 2, Abby Carter 3 0-0 6. Totals 26 5-7 62.
3-Pointers: S— Fair 4, Dienst
Highlights: W—Johns-Folkes had three rebounds and two assists ; S—Shorrock had two assists and a block