STAMFORD — To high school boys basketball coaches there never is enough time.
For Stamford coach Zach Smith, however, the time seems right for the Black Knights to turn the corner this season.
SHS sent the right message to its coach Thursday night as it earned its first FCIAC victory of the season by holding off Ludlowe High, 52-49 in the friendly confines of Paul Kuczo Gym.
The triumph improved Stamford to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the very competitive FCIAC.
“We played much harder and with more energy in the second half. We needed every bit of it to grab the win,” Coach Smith said. “Now we have things to build on.”
The Black Knights knew the 2018-19 campaign would not be easy after graduating seven seniors including co-captains Tevin St. John and Jelani Jackson from last year’s 15-8 squad that won at No. 1 seed Simsbury in the state Division II second round.
Stamford High’s eight-player rotation was resolute Thursday night against a patient, grinding Ludlowe team that had five 3-pointers in the first half.
The roles of the current Black Knights appear defined at this juncture of the season with senior captain and point guard Josh Thervil directing traffic at both ends of the court.
“Josh is a three-year starter and it shows. I’m certainly going to enjoy his talents while he’s here,” Smith said. “He’s our leader on the court. We’re good when Josh is locked in.”
Stamford uses an aggressive defense to control pace. The resultant transition opportunities worked well for top scorers sophomore Jay Jaudon (game-high 19) and Jaden Bell (10, all in 1st half) against Ludlowe.
Jaudon showed the growth in his game as his traditional 3-point play (drive, hoop, free throw) with :04 left provided the margin of victory.
“Jay is much more patient this season. He’s running our sets very well,” Smith said. “He attacks the defense when we ask him to. He’s so hard to guard. Now that he’s picking his spots, he’s very successful scoring.”
Senior center Manny Azolin and sophomore Danny Simms off the bench have been great weapons on the offensive glass and getting others in transitions off opposition misses.
Stamford High will play at New Canaan, host New Britain, travel to McMahon and host Darien before it battles intracity rival Westhill on Saturday, Jan. 19.
“Ludlowe is always a good test. And I thought we responded well,” Smith said. “We just have to keep getting better every day. Showing we can respond to adversity is a positive step.”