By Eliot Schickler

When the Fairfield Warde boys basketball team needed to make a play, someone stepped up and delivered.

Warde's penchant for hitting timely shots, coupled with its defensive game plan in containing Staples' top two scorers, senior captain Mike Argosh and junior Peter Rankowitz, were the recipe for its 60-51 road victory Friday.

"It's a big response after losing to [Fairfield] Ludlowe [Tuesday]," Mustangs coach Ryan Swaller said. "We knew Argosh and Rankowitz were able to score and focused on them. All five guys knew where they were at all times and we hedged screens."

Warde raised its record to 6-6, 4-6 in the FCIAC. Staples dropped to 6-6, 5-5.

"It's a tough loss," Wreckers coach Colin Devine said. "You have to give credit to Warde, they played great defense."

Overall, the Mustangs forced 18 Staples turnovers and didn't give the Wreckers to many good looks to the basket. Staples also missed many shots, courtesy of Warde guarding its shooters like a blanket.

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The Mustangs also had a height advantage with 6-7 senior captain Sal Siciliano and classmate Mike Wright dominating inside, each grabbing 10 rebounds. Siciliano was the game's high scorer with 18 and slashed his to seven layups.

"When I get the ball, I work on getting contact and try to finish," Siciliano said.

He definitely had a penchant for drawing fouls and shot a game-high seven free throws, going 4-for-7 from the charity stripe. One of his layups was a dunk off a feed from Wright, which electrified Warde's cheering section, and gave the visitors a 6-0 lead.

Wright was like an X-factor who did everything for the Mustangs, and his quick hands played a major role. He crashed the boards, played tight defense, and deftly set up Siciliano inside with this play coming off a steal.

"Basically, the key was boxing out, rebounding, and getting the ball to Sal," Wright said. "He ran the court well and I was able to get it to him."

Warde led for most of the game but Staples didn't go away quietly. Although Argosh had no first-half points, the Wreckers were able to claw their way back and took a 20-17 lead with 4:08 remaining in the first half, their biggest advantage of the game. Rankowitz' layup from junior James Frusciante gave them the lead.

Staples also received contributions from backups Patrick Kohlmann and Nick Ward, both scoring four points each in the half. However, the Wreckers trailed 27-23 at the half. Siciliano's 3-point play gave the Mustangs a 25-23 lead and senior Joe Bartelemeo's offensive rebound led to another Warde layup.

Argosh may have been stopped in the first half, but came alive after the break with 14 points, including two early 3-pointers to keep Staples in the game. The Wreckers also played well defensively and forced 16 Mustang turnovers. Frusciante and Rankowitz each had three steals.

Staples took a 39-38 lead on Argosh's 3-play with 1:33 left in the third quarter off a backdoor cut from Ward. However, Siciliano's layup from Wright gave the Mustangs the lead for good, and following a McTague steal, Siciliano's layup made it 42-39, the score after three quarters.

McTague hit a pivotal 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter when his 35-foot shot banked in.

"I pumped that one and it was a little too strong, but it found the rim," McTague said. "It was the type of day where a lot of our shots found the rim [and dropped in]. That could have been a momentum-turner, but we got the stop defensively, which drained them."

The Wreckers didn't get closer after McTague's trey.

Fairfield Warde 60, Staples 51


Matt McTague 4 3-4 13 Greg Hyman 3 2-2 9 Joe Bartelemo 2 0-0 4 Mike Wright 3 5-6 11 Max Garrett 1 3-6 5 Sal Siciliano 7 4-7 18. Totals: 20 17-25 60.

STAPLES (3-4, 2-3)

Mike Argosh 5 1-1 14 Pete Rankowitz 5 0-0 10 Vasili Tziolis 1 2-2 4 James Frusciante 2 4-6 9 Darryle Wiggins 2 0-0 4 Ross Whelan 0 0-0 0 Pat Kohlmann 2 0-0 4 Nick Ward 2 0-0 4 Mike Garrity 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 7-9 51.

FAIRFIELD WARDE 13 14 15 18--60

STAPLES 8 15 16 12--51

3-pointers: FW--McTague 2, Hyman 1. S- Argosh 3, Frusciante 1. FW- Wright had 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, Siciliano had 10 rebounds, 1 blocked shot and 1 steals. S-Rankowitz had 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steals, Frusciante had 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, Argosh had 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal.