— Mike C (@mikecfree) January 18, 2020
FAIRFIELD — Pick any position on the basketball court and there’s a fair chance Chris Knachel has logged a few minutes there.
Friday night against Fairfield Ludlowe the six-foot Ridgefield senior drew the assignment of playing in the post against the Falcons’ tall front line. Although he gave up a few inches, Knachel more than held his own and sparked the Tigers to a 52-43 FCIAC road victory.
Knachel finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds as Ridgefield improved to 7-1.
“Any win on the road is a big deal. They’re a very good team, greatly coached,” Knachel said. “It comes down to we really out-toughed them at times. We were very prepared.”
Ridgefield played without its starting center Matt DeLuca due to injury. It pressed Knachel into a spot closer to the basket. No matter, Knachel always seemed to be in the right spot and finished with five offensive rebounds. Ridgefield out-rebounded Ludlowe 40-25.
“He’s our toughness leader,” Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan said.
Knachel left the game briefly in the fourth quarter after landing hard on a drive to the basket, but he returned quickly after getting his finger taped.
“(He was) crashing the glass the whole time, back-door cuts … he’s just an all-around player, he’s a fundamental player,” Ludlowe senior James Bourque said of Knachel.
James Rush added 14 for Ridgefield, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Aside from a 10-0 Tigers’ run to open the second quarter, there wasn’t much to separate the two teams.
“They do such great job, they spread you out and they’re patient until you break down and make a mistake and you get beat on a back door,” Ludlowe coach John Dailey said. “I thought we played good defense, but on a couple possessions where we didn’t defend they made us pay and at the end of the day that’s the difference in the game.”
Afterward each coach noted the similarities between the two teams.
“Both teams know each other very well,” McClellan said. “(Dailey’s) one of my good coaching friends in the FCIAC. We knew what they wanted to do and we knew what we had to take away.”
Ludlowe tied it at 28-28 on a layup by Patrick Kilbride with 44 seconds left in the third quarter. On the next trip down Luke McGarrity hit a 3-pointer to put Ridgefield back ahead by good.
The Falcons (7-2) got as close as 35-32 on a layup by Rowan Keesser midway through the fourth but never any closer. Keesser led all scorers with 16. Kilbride added 11 for the Falcons.
Earlier in the week, Ludlowe defeated Trinity Catholic 68-60 on the strength of 10 3-pointers. Friday the Falcons finished 3 for 19 from long range.
“Great FCIAC battle,” Bourque said. “They’re so prepared. They knew everything we were going to run.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chris Knachel, Ridgefield. The senior did a little bit of everything, leading his team with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“This is a huge win for us. (Ludlowe) is the team that’s probably playing the best in the FCIAC right now.” — Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan.