Consistency and ball-sharing throughout the contest was the key for the Fairfield Ludlowe girls basketball team in its hard-fought 49-46 FCIAC victory over Wilton Monday night in Fairfield.
Ludlowe (15-4 overall, 14-3) found itself tied with the Warriors heading into the fourth quarter before scraping out a win behind a strong performance by Caroline Pangallo. The junior guard led her team with 16 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter.
"We knew how hard we worked and that we deserved this game, so we kept working until the end," Pangallo said. "It feels unbelievable, we all work so hard and it's been an incredible season for us; I think it was very deserving tonight."
Pangallo led a Falcons team that earned success through ball movement and depth, causing defensive problems for Wilton (16-3, 14-3), which could not focus its defense on one player.
"That's been really big for us," Ludlowe coach Sarah Huntington said of her team's depth. "We have a huge bench, so the team contribution and being able to keep going and keep being intense has been really key for us; we're not tired and always have fresh legs, and that's huge."
The offensive game plans of opposing teams greatly varied from one another, while Ludlowe focused on spreading the ball and taking outside shots. Wilton pounded the paint with post players Erica Meyer and Erin Cunningham.
"It was definitely tough," Huntington said of defending the bigger bodies. "If you look at our composition, we're not exactly big inside so we were looking to really help on the weak side. There were moments where we were doing that and moments we weren't; we're trying to get more consistent with that."
Both juniors, Meyer and Cunningham combined for 34 of Wilton's points and throughout the contest were instrumental to the Warriors' success.
"They really grinded it out," Wilton assistant Rob Coloney said of the two. "Our team is led by juniors and they played really hard tonight. Erin (20 points) hit some huge shots -- first half and second half -- to keep it close, she played a heck of a game and Erica grinded inside, she really did."
Huntington even lauded the play of Wilton's big players and the matchup problems they create.
"Erica Meyer is an (NCAA) Division 1 player, so you have to respect that," Huntington said. "So we were really trying to pinch inside since one person can't stop her, and Cunningham is a great player as well. She hit from the outside and can drive, so it's hard to matchup with her with a guard."
Huntington also spoke of her team's growth throughout the year by citing that early on it might not have won a competitive game such as this.
"The defensive intensity and no fear attitude," Huntington said of the team's difference. "We're a totally different team from the beginning of the season, and to see a team improve like that is awesome as a coach."
Anthony Parelli is a freelance reporter
Fairfield Ludlowe 49, Wilton 46
WILTON (15-4, 14-3 FCIAC)
Makenna Pearsall 1 0-0 2 Erin Cunningham 7 4-5 20 Karen Brosko 1 1-2 4 Haley English 1 3-4 5 Erica Meyer 5 4-10 14 Sara Dickinson 0 1-2 1. Totals: 15 13-23 46.
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE (16-4, 14-4 FCIAC)
Pauline Blatt 2 0-0 4 Sara Grabowski 2 0-0 4 Caroline Pangallo 5 3-5 16 Charlotte Blatt 6 0-0 13 Regan Steed 1 0-0 2 Julia Pangallo 1 0-0 3 Alex McKinnon 2 3-4 7. Totals: 19 6-9 49.
WILTON 8 12 14 12--46
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 10 14 10 15--49
3-pointers: W--Cunningham 2, Brosko; FL--C. Pangallo 3, C. Blatt, J. Pangallo.