Whenever Darien and New Canaan meet on a rink, court or field, the intensity level tends to increase a few levels. While that certainly held true in the first quarter of the girls basketball match-up at Darien High School last Saturday, the Blue Wave ultimately tamed the Rams and cruised to a convincing 46-21 victory.
With the win, Darien improved to 8-8 in the FCIAC and 9-9 overall, while New Canaan (3-15, 2-13 FCIAC) is still trying to gain traction in its season.
"We had too many turnovers in the second half," said Rams head coach Kim Palmer. "And when [Darien] capitalizes, they go on a run, and we unfortunately were not able to bounce back. The second half wasn't meant to be for us."
In a stronger first quarter performance, New Canaan captain Ali Reilly hit a three-pointer to get the Rams going. They continued to move the ball well and control the boards on both ends, which produced a 10-7 New Canaan lead after eight minutes.
Then, the tide turned.
The Blue Wave shook off its sluggishness, switched to a 1-3-1 formation and started getting more pressure in their zone. The remainder of the game was all Darien.
Senior Emily Stein led the charge with seven of her game-high 19 points in the second quarter, as Kelly Karczewski added six points of her own. Darien took a comfortable 24-16 lead into the half.
The Wave didn't slow down in the third quarter, as they kept hitting shots from the perimeter. Darien knocked down five three-pointers in that quarter alone, three of which came from Stein, who had five treys on the day. The Wave's Casey Ryan and Karczewski collected the other two.
"By making all those shots, it's contagious," said Darien co-captain Avery Maley. "We got the momentum, and that kind of shut them down a little bit. This game pushes us forward and gives us a more positive attitude."
Meanwhile, Darien's defensive play flummoxed the Rams, who managed only three points for the quarter.
"It was nice that we could not only play good D, but we could also make our offense work," said Darien head coach Kate Lauten. "And not just off the fast breaks, we were actually running through sets and running through our plays."
Reilly topped all scoring for the Rams with 10 points, propelled two three-pointers. The other double-digit scorer for the game was Karczewski, who tallied 16 points.
Collectively, the Wave was 8-13 on free throws, and the Rams were 3-6.
"It's never easy to lose to your rival," Reilly said. "We started off strong, we had good momentum, but somewhere in the second and third quarter we got disconnected."
Darien (8-8; 9-9)
Emily Stein, 0 7-9 3; Kelly Karczewski 5 6-3 2; Casey Ryan, 0 0-3-0; Annie Wright 0 3-0 0; Emily Coyle 0 0-0 2; Kate Fiore 0 2-0 0; Avery Maley 2 0-0 0;
New Canaan (2-13; 3-15)
Ali Reilly, 8 0-2 0; Erica Smith 2 2-1 0; Elizabeth Miller, 0 2-0 1; Devon Selvalen 0 2-0 0; Tess Decker 0 0-1 0;
Three pointers: NC: Ali Reilly 2; Darien: Emily Stein 5, Kelly Karczewski 2, Casey Ryan 1
Darien 7 17 15 7 - 46
New Canaan: 10 6 3 2 - 21