Stamford girls beat Warde to clinch FCIAC playoff berth
Playing in a virtual play-in game for the final FCIAC playoff spot, the Fairfield Warde girls basketball team needed its stars to shine on Wednesday night.
But it was the Stamford stars who stole the show.
Lauren Schapiro hit three first quarter 3-pointers and Kelsey Cognetta scored a game-high 20 points as the Black Knights clinched a trip to the FCIAC playoffs with a 49-39 win at Fairfield Warde High School.
The Black Knights clinched the No. 7 seed by virtue of their win Feb. 10 over Darien, the No. 8 seed. Stamford will take on No. 2 St. Joseph on Saturday in Trumbull at 5 p.m.
"It's a new season," Stamford coach Todd Parness said. "We're ready to go in our new season now."
Brielle Lanese led Warde with 15 points before fouling out with 33 seconds left. The Mustangs lost for the first time all year on their home floor, and never lead in the game.
"We ran into a tough team," Warde coach Dave Danko said. "The better team won tonight."
Stamford can thank Schapiro for that. The senior guard scored the Black Knights' first nine points, all on 3-pointers as Stamford built an 11-2 advantage from the outset.
"I don't think it was me, my team found me the ball," Schapiro said. "I was open and just shot it and it went in."
"That definitely gave us momentum," Parness said.
Senior Jasmin Barrett also aided Stamford, grabbing rebounds and loose balls to keep the Black Knights' possessions alive. Barrett had 12 rebounds to go along with seven points, as the Black Knights built an 18-9 lead after one.
"We'd been emphasizing loose balls and rebounds," Parness said. "And we did a good job of hitting the boards hard."
However when Schapiro picked up her second foul 25 seconds into the second quarter, Warde capitalized. The Mustangs went on a 14-3 run with Schapiro on the bench to tie the game at 21.
But Kelsey Santagata scored twice to give Stamford a 25-21 halftime advantage, and that run became 8-0 once the third quarter began, capped by Barrett's layup that put the Black Knights up 29-21.
Despite picking up her third foul just 1:02 into the third, Schapiro was not whistled for one the rest of the game, picking up four boards and two steals in the second half.
"I knew I had to play smarter and not go in for stupid fouls," Schapiro said.
Warde countered with an 8-2 spurt, behind 3-pointers from Jamera and Tiara Fountain, getting within 31-29.
"Credit Warde, they kept coming at us," Parness said.
But Cognetta took over, closing the third with a layup, beginning a personal 7-0 run that put Stamford back up 38-29.
"My teammates reminded me to stay patient," Cognetta said. "And be smart with the ball."
Stamford forced seven turnovers in the fourth, and never led by less than seven after Cognetta's run, outscoring Warde 16-10 in the final frame.
"We didn't capitalize on their turnovers," Danko said. "And they turned our turnovers into points the other way."
Stamford clinched its first trip to the FCIAC tournament since 2010.
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