This space was supposed to be devoted to Fairfield Warde's boys basketball team turning the corner.

The Mustangs finally got a complete effort on Monday night. They got an upset win over an FCIAC playoff hopeful, and had finally appeared to realize that they were a talented team that could finish games.

And then on Wednesday night "Groundhog Day" struck again for Warde. The Mustangs lost 37-36 to Harding on Senior night at home.

The Mustangs have lost four games by two points or less. Three of those games were against teams in the top-eight of the FCIAC standings right now. If Warde had even won two of those games, it would be in the Class L state playoffs, now the Mustangs must fight for their lives from here on out starting with a treacherous trip to Danbury on Monday.

"They're all playoff games now," Warde head coach Ryan Swaller said.

Warde is admittedly young, but the bad breaks that it has suffered this year are alarming. Wednesday's bad breaks, however, were self-induced. The Mustangs shot 4-12 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, and 7-18 for the game. Warde scored just 36 points in the game.

Despite all of the foul shooting woes, the Mustangs STILL had the opportunity to win the game in the final minute. Warde forced three turnovers in the final 10 seconds to get possessions. Junior guard Matt McTague used a ball fake to get fouled and three foul shots with the opportunity to tie the game.

McTague made two out of three, his only missed free throw of the night, but it was a costly one. He certainly can't be blamed for the failings of the Mustangs on Wednesday.

"We've had enough of these that I think we're over them," Swaller said. "I feel confident in our ability to close games."

When you blow as many opportunities as Warde did against Harding, you probably don't deserve to win.

"We had the opportunity," Swaller said. "It builds character, we've got a whole lot of character this year."

Swaller thought his team had turned a corner on Monday night, and so did I. Then Wednesday's result dropped the Mustangs right back to where they were. When you lose that many games the way that Warde has, sometimes you doubt that you can win close contests.

The positive spin for Warde is that it has two winnable games next week, at Danbury and Darien. If it can take care of business, Warde will ride a nice little five wins in seven games streak into the Class L playoffs. The Mustangs are certainly talented enough to compete with anybody, and has the size to match up well with most teams in the state.

What Warde probably does not have is the confidence to close out a game. If, in the state playoffs, the Mustangs are playing tightly with someone who is confident in closing out wins, it could spell a premature end to the Mustangs season.

But that is all part of the future. The playoffs start now for Warde, and it better figure out how to win its final two games.

Else wise, next week at this time, we'll be talking about the Mustangs' season being over.

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