STAMFORD — One of the more dramatic moments of the last boys basketball season came in the form of half-court buzzer-beater by New Canaan’s Ryan McAleer to beat Stamford, 52-49, in a game which really launched the Rams’ drive to a championship.
This year’s meeting between the two teams wasn’t quite so dramatic, and it was decidedly better for the Black Knights.
The Knights blew open a close game by outscoring New Canaan by 28 points in the second half en route to a decisive 63-34 victory Friday night at Stamford’s Paul Kuczo Gym.
It was a huge with for Stamford (5-4, 2-3 FCIAC), which had opened the calendar year with three consecutive losses before beating Greenwich and New Canaan this week.
“This feels great,” said Stamford junior Jay Jaudon, who led the Knights with 23 points. “We’ve been in a slump and we lost three games back-to-back, so this is great to come out here and get a win on our home court. There was a lot of energy today.”
“It was just a good team win,” Stamford’s first-year coach Dan Lauture said. “Everybody collectively chipped in. They stuck to the game plan and it was just a great effort.”
New Canaan (6-3, 3-2), which had a three-game win streak broken, was unable to get much of anything going against the Knights’ defense, which contested shots in the lane, forced the Rams to shoot from the outside, and won the rebounding battle as well.
“They basically did everything better in basketball than we did and that’s the result,” New Canaan coach Danny Melzer said. “They completely outplayed us. (Jaudon) was phenomenal tonight, they wanted the game more than we did, and they out-executed us.”
The game was close during the first half, with the largest lead coming at 19-15 for Stamford late in the second quarter.
Buckets by McAleer and Christian Sweeney tied it for the Rams, but a free throw by Stamford’s Daiquan Hall gave the Knights a 20-19 lead at halftime.
The Rams had to contend with the loss of senior Alex Gibbens, who was knocked from the game in the middle of the second quarter. During a wild series near the Stamford basket, several players hit the floor hard and Gibbens was forced to leave the game.
“That’s a big loss, but at the same time, we’ve always had the next man up mentality,” Melzer said. “We’ve lost players before, so it’s nothing new for us, unfortunately. Injuries are a part of the game and we’ve just got to a better job of stepping up.”
Sweeney scored the first points of the second half to briefly give New Canaan a one-point edge, but a 7-0 run put Stamford back in front at 27-21.
After the Rams closed the gap to 29-26. Jalen Lindsey drained a 3-pointer, starting a 12-3 burst which widened the lead to 41-29 by the end of the third quarter.
Stamford then outscored New Canaan 22-5 in the fourth, with senior Jaden Bell scoring nine of his 20 points in that final frame
Jaudon said the defensive play of the Knights was the key to the victory.
“We were playing a lot of defense, guys were moving the ball around and getting open shots,” Jaudon said. “We weren’t playing selfish and that’s what made us get this win today. It was good defense and good intensity.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jay Jaudon, Stamford. The junior forward led the Knights on both ends of the floor and scored 10 of his 23 points in the third quarter when Stamford began to pull away.
“We feel good about the rest of the season. Now with this win we’ve got some momentum going, so this win will be good for us for the next game.” — Stamford junior Jay Jaudon