On Teacher Appreciation Night Friday at Fairfield Ludlowe, perhaps the teachers being honored before the game found value in the Falcons' effectiveness at both ends of the floor in Ludlowe's seventh win in a row in girls basketball. The Falcons showed they could take the lessons from their coaches and apply them on the court as Ludlowe beat Norwalk 63-44 in an FCIAC game.
The Falcons improved to 13-1 overall and 11-1 in the FCIAC as they begin a stretch that closes out the regular season against six of the top eight teams in the conference. The combined FCIAC records of Greenwich, Stamford, Warde, Westhill, Wilton and Danbury entering Friday was 56-14.
Norwalk's fourth straight loss Friday left the Bears at 5-9 overall and 4-8 in the FCIAC. Norwalk, which started three freshmen and a sophomore, has lost seven of its last eight games.
Caroline Pangallo scored a game-high 20 points for the Falcons, who received eight points each from Pauline Blatt and Charlotte Blatt and seven from Regan Steed. Norwalk was led by Shania Osborne's 17 points and nine points from Asiah Knight. They are ninth-graders.
"They had open shots," Norwalk coach Ricky Fuller said of Ludlowe's offense. "They're a good jump shooting team, and that's what good shooting teams do, they make their shots. They did what they were supposed to do. I was impressed with their shooters.
"Sometimes we were out of position (defensively). We've got to learn to improve. Sometimes we have to do that in the game. Sometimes we make the adjustments. Sometimes it takes a little more time to make the adjustments," Fuller said.
Ludlowe opened a 12-5 lead midway through the first quarter, but a five-point spree by the Bears cut their deficit to 12-10 with 1 minute and 39 seconds left in the period. Then the Falcons responded with a 12-0 run that carried into the second quarter. Norwalk rallied to trail by 24-19 with more than half of the second quarter still to play. But a basket by Caroline Yates and two free throws by Pauline Blatt gave Ludlowe a 28-19 lead.
Norwalk was down at halftime by 32-24, and it was a four-point deficit (33-29) midway through the third quarter. Then Ludlowe got hot. The quarter ended with a 13-2 spurt by the Falcons, so they brought a 46-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
"At halftime, we talked to them on offense to get relaxed," said Ludlowe assistant coach Jason Purzycki, in his third game of the week filling in for head coach Sarah Huntington, who is ill. "They (Falcons) made a great adjustment. They came back on the court and we told them to have their hands up, box out and communicate. We had a couple of girls in foul trouble, but they did a great job in the second half of staying in control."
Norwalk took Ludlowe out of its game in the first half, Purzycki said. But the Falcons' improved defense in the second half created steals that led to fastbreak baskets, and that got them rolling.
"In the beginning of the game, we were missing some shots," Purzycki said. The outside shooting improved, he said, with the 3-pointers and the mid-range shots, too. Fuller said Ludlowe had more opportunities to shoot in the second half as well. "Their press was pretty good," Fuller said of the Falcons' defense.
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Fairfield Ludlowe 63, Norwalk 44
NORWALK (5-9, 4-8)
Amanda Beckwith 4 0-0 8 Shania Osborne 6 5-9 17 Brianna Fitzgerald 1 0-0 2 Asiah Knight 4 1-1 9 Mariah Ventrella 1 0-0 3 Tiasia Brown 0 1-4 1 Shantel Butler 2 0-0 4. Totals: 18 7-14 44.
LUDLOWE (13-1, 11-1)
Pauline Blatt 3 2-4 8 Sara Grabowski 1 0-0 2 Caroline Pangallo 8 0-0 20 Charlotte Blatt 2 4-5 8 Trish Auray 2 0-0 6 Julia Pangallo 2 0-2 4 Alex McKinnon 1 2-3 4 Regan Steed 3 1-2 7 Caroline Yates 2 0-0 4. Totals: 24 9-16 63.
NORWALK 10 14 7 13--44
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 20 12 14 17--63
3-pointers: N--Ventrella; FL--C. Pangallo 4, Auray 2.