It may not have been the prettiest win, but Ludlowe is more than pleased about its opening night performance at St. Joseph Wednesday night in Trumbull. The Falcons defended well for much of the game in a hard-fought 52-48 girls basketball victory.

"Defense is definitely one of the things we pride ourselves on," coach Sarah Huntington said. "We've been working on trying to play with a defensive mentality and ruthlessness where we get in people's faces, and you saw that tonight in the first half. Our defensive rebounding was very solid tonight. Overall, I was pretty satisfied with our performance."

Sisters Julia and Caroline Pangallo led the way on offense for the Falcons. Julia, a sophomore, finished with 15 points, while Caroline, a junior, scored 14. Junior Shannon O'Meara hit seven three pointers for the Cadets to finish with 21 points.

Ludlowe led by 19-4 after the opening quarter, and its defense did not allow a field goal through the first six minutes. The Falcons' pressure cut off passing lanes caused turnovers that led to a couple of easy baskets.

Huntington said it was great to see that type of effort. She praised senior Sara Grabowski for her efforts in the first quarter (four points, good defense).

"Sara did an awesome job of starting us off tonight," Huntington said. "That was a huge boost for the team when she made some key plays early, and it's what you want to see from your senior leader."

"I love to be the person who my teammates can rely on to get things going," Grabowski said. "Somebody needs to step up, and I'm willing to do that for them."

The Falcons showed the ability to score in the paint and on the perimeter throughout the game. Eight players scored for them.

"We had great depth tonight," Huntington said. "We got some good production from our bench players, and we hope to go even deeper into our bench as the season goes along."

Ludlowe's defense continued to play well in the second quarter and the opening part of the third quarter, but began to look inconsistent as the game entered the stretch run. The Falcons were unable to put as much pressure on St. Joe's, and it took advantage. After trailing 43-28 going into the fourth quarter, O'Meara's performance from long range helped fuel a furious rally. The Cadets outscored Ludlowe 20-9 in the final eight minutes, but ran out of time.

"In the second half, we lost a little bit of that ruthlessness and didn't do as good of a job on the boards," Huntington said. "We want to be able to get to the point where we maintain that and stay focused for all four quarters, but it's super hard."

Danny Atkinson is a freelance reporter