As January turns into February on the calendar, it is the time of the FCIAC girls basketball season where coaches measure teams through the words responsibility and accountability.

Veteran Warde coach Dave Danko found his Mustangs very responsible and extremely accountable Wednesday night, posting an impressive 56-42 road triumph over Stamford High at Kuczo Gym.

"We were coming off a game where we were down nine points in the fourth quarter to Greenwich, rallied back, then lost 49-47," said Danko, recounting Warde's only loss of the season. "We were without our top scorer Iliana Krasniqi that contest. And she is still out. Tonight I saw other players stepping up. Tonight our kids showed they are battle-tested and will be ready to make a run when the postseason gets here."

Indeed. Warde (13-1, 11-1 FCIAC) played like the FCIAC West Division leader it is.

With things tied 8-8 after one quarter, Warde dominated the second quarter by a 17-2 margin and never really looked back.

Stamford High standout guard Tiana England was sitting with foul trouble and the Warde press took full advantage.

The SHS turnovers came in bushels as the scoreboard read 25-10 Warde at intermission.

"We had mental breakdowns against their press," Stamford coach Diane Burns said. "The girls can't get frantic for no reason."

With England (team-high 17 points) back on the court, Stamford (11-3, 9-3 FCIAC) closed to 29-20 after three quarters.

However, the Black Knights don't possess the multitude of other offensive options necessary to play from behind.

SHS got as close as 41-35 with 3:41 to go and 45-40 with 1:30 left but couldn't climb the mountain. Warde did a fine job in the second half of running off clock on a number of lengthy offensive possessions.

Stamford couldn't overcome the 17 fouls it committed in the second half or the vast imbalance at the charity stripe. Warde shot 26 of 40 from the line compared to 3 of 6 for SHS.

Warde also had a trio of players in double figures. Forward Shania Osborne (game-high 18 points, 15 rebounds) was followed by Lejla Markovic (16 points, 11 of 12 from line) and Daja Polk (11 points, mainly off steals).

"We go to Ridgefield next. That won't be easy," said Danko, who has more than 800 victories on his staff with the venerable Ed Huydic as an assistant. "I believe we were watching two playoff teams tonight. This was a game we both learned from. Stamford will be there at playoff time."

Warde's game with Ridgefield is on the road on Friday at 7 p.m.

rich.depreta@scni.com

Warde 56, Stamford 42

WARDE (13-1, 11-1 FCIAC)

Jacqui Lanese 1 1-2 4 Lejla Markovic 2 11-12 16 Shania Osborne 6 6-11 18 Sarah Cotto 1 5-11 7 Daja Polk 4 3-4 11 Allison Whitlock 0 0-0 0 Olivia Parisi 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 26-40 56.

STAMFORD (11-3, 9-3 FCIAC)

Tiana England 7 1-1 17 Camille Martinez 4 0-1 11 Alexa Kellner 3 1-1 7 Oriana Merone 0 0-0 0 Mackenzie Brown 0 1-3 1 Britney Moise 3 0-0 6 Marthe Guirand 0 0-0 0 Madison Johnson 0 0-0 0 Brooke Kelly 0 0-0 0 Maria Zecena 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 3-6 42.

WARDE 8 17 4 27 --56

STAMFORD 8 2 10 22 --42

3-Pointers: W -- Lanese, Markovic. S -- England 2, Martinez 3.

Highlights: W -- Osborne 15 rebounds. Polk, Markovic 4 assists each. Warde was without injured leading scorer Iliana Krasniqi.