Although Darien is a town not quite as renowned for its basketball prowess as it is for its success in sports such as football, lacrosse and hockey, the Blue Wave girls basketball team has now earned a trip to the FCIAC and state tournaments for three consecutive seasons.
Spearheading the program's achievements has been four-year starting center and senior captain Meg Marren, who hit the 1,000-point plateau for her high school career during the first quarter of a 62-25 home victory over Norwalk on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
"I never really thought about it," said Marren, who got to 1,000 points despite suffering a concussion against Ridgefield on Dec. 18. "Then after the first two seasons of kind of adding up my points it was talked about a little bit, but I never really thought I'd get to this point. "
Marren entered the contest five points shy of the four-digit mark and took care of three of those points when she made a basket and converted the and-one after being fouled. The next two points came on a layup after receiving a pass from long-time teammate and fellow senior captain Kate Bushell.
"I got a great by pass from my teammate Kate Bushell to help me get that last layup to 1,000 points. It was kind of meant to be that she passed me the ball since we've been playing together for so long," said Marren, who went on to score a game-high 22 points against Norwalk while also coming up with eight steals, seven rebounds, six blocks and five assists.
Katie Lauten, Darien's first year head coach, knew that she was inheriting a talented center when she took the reins. Lauten knew of Marren when Marren was in seventh grade, but this is the first season that the two have been paired together as coach and player.
"Just physically her size is a strength, and she's been working on her moves and she sticks with her shot and puts it up. This year, she'll grab a rebound and go coast-to-coast," Lauten said of her 6'0" senior. "She's not afraid to put the ball down; she's confident with her dribble and you don't get that from a lot of centers. Somebody stepping in front of her won't make her pass it away. I feel lucky to have her for one year."
According to Lauten, Marren's contributions to the Blue Wave go well beyond any stat line and what she does during game action. Lauten also she indicated that Marren and the other two seniors (Bushell and Ali Aparacio) had to earn the captaincies prior to the start of the season.
"She has a presence that a lot of the girls just follow. When we're in practice, she really pushes people. She doesn't just do her thing; she makes sure other people are stepping up too," Lauten said. "I told the three seniors I was looking at them (as captains), but they had to earn it. Through the summer, they played in a summer league and in the fall during tryouts we announced it because they had earned it."
After soundly defeating Norwalk, Darien went on to score a 49-41 win at Fairfield Warde on Wednesday and a 63-58 road victory against Stamford on Thursday and entered the FCIAC tournament on a scorching hot streak, having won 11 of its last 12 games.
"I think we've come out and worked as hard as we possibly can, and we've all just really clicked together," Marren said. "We've made good passes, good shots and just working really well off each other to get us where we are."
Marren will attend Bucknell University in the fall, though she currently does not plan to go out for the varsity basketball team.
"My sister goes there now and both of my parents have gone there. I've always really enjoyed going to it, and I really felt like I would fit well there," said Marren, who is still considering a major. "I really think there are so many more things that I could try out there and just start something new in college."
Marren and the Blue Wave locked up the No. 5 seed in the FCIAC tournament by closing out the regular season with a record of 15-5 (14-4 FCIAC).
It also represents a step up from each of the previous two years, during which Darien needed to win its regular season finale to squeak into the tournament as the No. 8 seed.
"We've always worked really hard since coming in my freshman year, but this year we've really stepped our game up, especially with our new coaching," Marren said. "We've just proved that we are a good team, and we want to get as far as we can, especially in my senior year."
Marren and the Blue Wave were defeated 50-42 by Danbury in the first round of the FCIAC tournament on Saturday and will next be in action in the Class LL state tournament.
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