DARIEN -- When you're tied with your opponent for seventh place in the FCIAC standings -- even with eight games to go in the regular season -- the contest is bound to take on added significance.
Such was the case Tuesday night when the Darien girls basketball team hosted and defeated Trinity Catholic by a comfortable 64-47 margin. For the Blue Wave, who won their fifth straight, the victory essentially gives them a two-game lead over the Crusaders since they now have the tiebreaker.
"This is one of the games I didn't have to do much; they put it together themselves on the court," Darien coach Katie Lauten said. "We were clicking on all cylinders."
Darien enjoyed a balanced attack, as three players scored in double digits: Kelly Karczewski recorded a game-high 16 points and was followed by teammates Meg Marren (14) and Emily Stein (12).
"We're on a five-game winning streak and we knew we had to come in and win this game in order to get a better spot in states and FCIACs and just prove that we're all-around a good team," Marren said. "Everyone has such good chemistry on the court right now, and we're just working great off each other to get these wins."
Darien started fast and built an 8-1 lead thanks to two points each from Kate Bushell, Stein, Marren and Erin Karczewski.
By the end of the quarter, however, Trinity had closed to within 15-9, as the final four points were scored on a quartet of free throws by Nat Senoble and Katelyn Spielman.
Trinity's Ali Palma and Spielman combined to score the first four points of the second quarter to cap of an 8-0 run for the Crusaders, shrinking the Blue Wave lead to 15-13, but that was as close as the Crusaders would get to pulling even all night.
"(Darien) executed, they did their job, they did what they're supposed to do, and we didn't respond to it," Trinity coach Tom Kriz said. "We know where we stand. That's something we talk about in pregame and during practices, knowing where we are and what we have to prepare for. We're in a race and there's a whole lot of people involved."
The Blue Wave then went on a 5-0 run on buckets by Stein and Marren and a free throw by Kelly Karczewski. With eight seconds remaining in the half, Marren was fouled on a drive to the hoop but was able to finish her layup and sink the free throw for a 3-point play and a 30-19 halftime advantage.
Palma notched the first two points of the second half, but that was followed up by a 6-0 run for the Blue Wave, including four points from Dagny Belak.
The third quarter was a draw and Darien maintained its 11-point lead at 42-31 heading into the fourth.
"It's far from settled," Trinity coach Tom Kriz said. "We've just got to get ourselves together. That's all."
A quarter-opening 8-3 run by the Blue Wave gave them their biggest lead of the night at 50-33, and the Crusaders would not get within 10 points the rest of the way.
"We need to keep even-keeled. We know what we need to do but also ride the momentum," Lauten said. "We've got so many great leaders on the court. I think (the team's place in the standings) motivated them a little bit."
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DARIEN 64, TRINITY CATHOLIC 47
DARIEN (9-4, 8-3 FCIAC)
Kelly Karczewski 6 3-4 16, Meg Marren 5 4-7 14, Emily Stein 5 2-2 12, Erin Karczewski 3 0-0 7, Dagny Belak 3 1-2 7, Kate Bushell 0 2-2 2, Kate Fiore 0 2-2 2, Kendra Fitzpatrick 1 0-0 2, Claire Naughton 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 14-19 64.
TRINITY CATHOLIC (8-5, 7-4 FCIAC)
Ali Palma 6 4-6 16, Kate Spielman 3 5-6 11, Anne Margaret Eilertsen 2 6-8 10, Kellie Hurd 1 3-4 7, Nat Senoble 0 4-4 4. Totals: 12 22-31 47.
TRINITY 9 10 12 16--47
DARIEN 15 15 12 22--64
3-pointers: D-Kelly Karczewski, Erin Karczewski; T-Kellie Hurd.