Locked in a tight game in the second half, the Stamford girls basketball team found another gear with the game still in the balance.
The result was another in a series of lopsided wins that is making the rest of the FCIAC take note that the Black Knights are a balanced squad led by a freshman sensation.
"Warde did a good job of making adjustments throughout the game, and our girls did a nice job of making the adjustments to counteract it," Stamford coach Todd Parness said. "A lot of the time we get stuck doing the same things, but today they made those little adjustments and it allowed us to be successful."
Holding a 33-27 lead early in the third quarter, Stamford turned up its defensive intensity and forced turnovers and difficult shots, sometimes making it difficult for the visitors to bring the ball up the court. Warde's defense initially kept the Black Knights at bay, but England, Stamford's freshman point guard, eventually cracked the code and sent her side on its way.
"(England) is playing like a veteran player with her shoulders up," Warde coach Dave Danko said. "She is their heartbeat and (Kelsey) Santagata is their glue, but she is the heartbeat of that team. If I was (Stamford) I would be excited, from their perspective tonight was fun."
Santagata was confined to the bench for periods of the game due to foul trouble, but her teammates stepped up and contributed on both ends of the court. Stamford went on a 7-0 run to close the third quarter and put the game out of sight early in the fourth.
Ashlya Cody had 10 points, Brittany Moise added eight and Anisa Fortta chipped in with seven for the balanced Black Knights.
"We've worked hard in practice and it showed tonight," Santagata said. "It was a real group effort tonight. It was about heart and you can't teach heart."
Despite facing early deficits of 8-1 and 19-10, the Mustangs refused to quit early and relied on their defense to keep the game competitive.
Tiara Fountain and Kaitlin McKenna combined for 27 of Warde's 39 points.
"I couldn't ask for more from my girls tonight," Danko said. We tried to make a run in the third quarter; all of that energy and effort we just did not convert. We are a young team and some of the decision making was poor."
The Black Knights have relied on their defense all season, allowing just two opponents to crack
40 points during the streak.
Stamford will attempt to remain undefeated on Friday when it visits rival Trinity Catholic. The Crusaders are 7-2 thus far and should provide a stern test in the first city game of the season.
"The girls are very excited," Parness said. "We are going to need the same type of effort as tonight for Friday; a complete team effort, everyone helping each other and really going 100 percent."
Stamford 59, Fairfield Warde 39
FAIRFIELD WARDE (6-4, 5-3 FCIAC)
Michele Treglia 1 0-2 2 Mollie Kerrigan 1 0-0 2 Kaitlin McKenna 4 5-6 13 Rachel Maltz 0 2-2 2 Tiara Fountain 5 2-4 14 Mary Kate McTague 1 0-0 2 Carley Strachan 2 0-0 4. Totals: 14 9-14 39.
STAMFORD (10-0, 8-0)
Ashyla Cody 4 0-0 10; Brianna Gordon 5 3-4 13; Anisa Fortt 3 1-3 7; Kelsey Santagata 3 0-2 6; Tiana England 5 1-1 13; Maxine Fodiman 1 0-2 2; Brittany Moise 3 2-3 8. Totals: 22 7-13 59.
FAIRFIELD WARDE 10 11 6 12--39
STAMFORD 19 12 9 19--59
3-point field goals: FW--Fountain 2; S--England 2, Cody 2.