Fairfield Warde boys basketball loses by one point to Harding
The Fairfield Warde boys basketball team just can not buy a break.
The Mustangs held Harding to just four points in the fourth quarter, yet the Presidents still managed to leave Warde's gym victorious with a 37-36 win on Wednesday night in Fairfield.
"It just hurts," Warde head coach Ryan Swaller said. "We felt like it was going our way and we just couldn't get it."
Warde was led by Matt McTague, who scored 10 points. Warde fell to 6-12 on the year, but four of those losses have come by two points or less. The Mustangs need to win their final two games in order to qualify for the Class L playoffs.
"We've got to let this go," Swaller said. "From here on out they are all playoff games."
Senior Corey Baldwin scored 21 points and had six steals to lift Harding to its 10th FCIAC win. The Presidents currently sit in the eighth and final FCIAC playoff spot with two games left to play.
"He's a legit top-FCIAC player," Swaller said of Baldwin.
However, Warde fell victim to itself. The Mustangs outscored Harding 11-4 in the fourth quarter, and forced three turnovers in the final 10 seconds of the game to get an opportunity to win the game.
"If you had told me that we would hold them to 37 points, I would be very pleased with that," Swaller said. "We executed defensively."
But, Warde was plauged by inconsistent foul shooting in the final frame, shooting just 4-12 from the line in the fourth. McTague had the opportunity to tie the game with eight seconds left, and Warde trailing 37-34, however, his second free throw rimmed out. The junior guard was, however, 4-5 from the line for the night.
"Foul shooting has been an issue for us for the year," Swaller said. "We missed foul shots throughout the second half."
Harding opened the game on a 7-0 run, and jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the first quarter. The Mustangs answered back with a 6-0 run, spearheaded by a pair of layups fromn Michael Wright. Wright scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and had three steals.
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Senior Pat Kerrigan added five points and three blocks in his final game at Warde. Kerrigan recorded two of his five in the second quarter, when the Mustangs went on a 6-0 run and took their only lead of the game, at 18-17. Harding led 19-18 at halftime.
"We caused turnovers," Swaller said. "We just didn't get as many as we needed to."
Every time Harding would try to pull away the Mustangs would answer. The Presidents never led by more than eight points in the game, they reached that lead with an 8-1 run to close the third quarter and led 33-25 after three.
Warde opened the fourth with the first five points, but then both teams went cold as there was not a point scored for 3:54 seconds.
"Their defense pulled us out of our offense," Swaller said. "The patience wasn't there for us."
Warde will have to travel to Danbury on Monday for its next game at 7 p.m.
"Monday night is when the playoffs start for us," Swaller said.