The Fairfield Ludlowe boys basketball team can relate to the troubles that its counterparts from Greenwich are going through.

The Falcons hit four free throws in the final 24 seconds to complete a comeback and defeat Greenwich 36-33, handing the Cardinals their second straight three-point loss.

"It really hurts," Greenwich senior Alejandro Rodriguez said. "We have seen this going on all season with little things that just kill us. We were winning the whole game until the last 20 seconds. I don't know what to say."

With the win, Ludlowe (8-7) qualifies for the state tournament a year after posting just four wins; an experience that puts them in a unique position to feel the pain that the Cardinals are experiencing his season.

The thought of qualifying for the states may have been weighing on the minds of the Falcons

as they got off to a slow start.

"We had four wins last year and I know the kids were thinking it would be fun to play some postseason ball." Ludlowe coach Brian Silvestro said. "I knew this would be a tough game and I do not understand Greenwich's record at all. They

are very difficult to play and a tough matchup for us."

The Cardinals (3-13) came out fast, taking control of the game behind two 3-pointers from

Rodriguez and four points from Greg Donlic on their way to opening up a 13-5 lead after one quarter.

With Donlic continuing to get position inside the Cardinals started the second quarter the same way they ended the first.

Greenwich went up 21-11 with 5:33 with Donlic going hard to the basket and converting the layup while drawing a foul.

From that point Ludlowe turned up the defensive pressure and began getting hot from beyond the arc.

Justin Berardino nailed a 3 and then was fed under the basket for a layup when the ensuing inbounds pass was stolen.

Then it was senior captain Kevin Bentivegna's turn, knocking down two 3's, the second knotting the score at 23 and completing a 12-2 run for the Falcons to close out the half.

Neither team was able to make a large run in the second half with both sides stepping up the defensive pressure.

Tito Morales followed a Greenwich miss with a mid-range jumper and the Cardinals only fourth quarter basket with 7:50 to go, giving the Cardinals a 33-30 lead.

Greenwich then went to a stack offense in hopes of controlling the tempo and limiting the mistakes that have plagued it down the stretch in close games this year.

"Control the game," Greenwich coach Bill Brehm said. "Every close loss we have had we have made poor decisions, including this one, and I wanted to take the decision making out of their hands to try to get them to see how to win a close game. They did a pretty good job until maybe the last minute. Poor

decisions and turnovers have been the story of our close game losses this year."

With 24 seconds left those poor decisions came out again when Morales fouled Bentivegna before the ball was inbounded under the Falcons' basket.

The senior stepped up and calmly sank both ends of the one-and-one to give Ludlowe its first lead of the game.

"I have been put in that position a bunch of times," Bentivegna said. "I just wanted to get the win and get us into states and it feels great. We knew once we started running our plays and playing great man-to-man defense and we worked as a team and that is why we were successful."

Following two free throws from Erik Krummins to put the Falcons up three the Cardinals had one more chance with 10 seconds remaining but a couple off balance 3-pointers fell short sending Greenwich home frustrated once again.