DARIEN — Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan equated his team’s bout with Darien Friday to a punch-for-punch boxing match.

At the end of the night, it was the Tigers that landed the knockout blow, defeating the Blue Wave 56-53 in Darien.

“Tonight was like a 12-round battle,” McClellan said. “Two tough, hard-nosed teams….our boys really executed our game plan tonight and I’m very happy with that execution.”

Offensively, that game plan relied heavily on the 3-ball, and Ridgefield knocked down seven of them in the contest.

After being outplayed in the first, Alexander Price buried a deep 3 to end the quarter with the Tigers trailing 13-9.

In the third quarter, down four, Joseph Newborn hit back-to-back triples and Chris Longo added one of his own to pace the Tigers offense.

“We did a good job spreading the floor, spreading the ball,” McClellan said. “And their defense is so good against penetration, and then (Alex) Preston is there. So what we did, is we’d get inside and throw it out and either that guy was open or the next guy was, but you have to make those shots, at the end of the day that was probably the deciding factor in the game, we made more outside shots than they did.”

The Ridgefield defense also stepped up in the third, holding Darien (7-5, 6-3 FCIAC) scoreless for the first four minutes of the quarter, but Carter Scott rattled off eight-straight points to keep the game at 36-36 after three.

With three minutes left in the fourth, a 3 from Darien’s William Rolapp tied the game at 48, but 6-foot-7 senior Alex Preston left the game after taking an elbow to the mouth — turning the momentum to the Tigers. Preston did not return.

“It’s a big factor when he goes out,” Darien coach Charoy Bentley said. “But, at the end of the day we’re still a team, we work hard every day, but today we really didn’t show up.”

With Darien clinging to a 53-50 lead and a minute left, Newborn knocked down two free-throws for the Tigers.

Ridgefield then forced a turnover on the ensuing possession and took the lead — 54-53 —with 30 second remaining on Price’s layup.

With just 10 seconds left Nicholas Laudati knocked down two free-throws for Ridgefield to ice the game, bringing the Tigers record to 8-5, and eclipsing the .500 mark in the FCIAC at 5-4.

“It’s a big win for us,” McClellan said. “They’ve been on a huge roll, the only game they lost in the last month was the Wilton game and they were up with a minute and a half left. This is a big win, (Bentley) is doing a very good job with them.”

After winning six-straight Darien lost Tuesday to Wilton, also a three-point defeat, and as a matchup with 10-1 Fairfield Warde looms on Tuesday, the Blue Wave must rebound quickly.

“We just have to bounce back from it, we have to learn from our mistakes and go from there,” Bentley said. “Next practice we’ll watch the film, go over our mistakes and hopefully don’t let this go downward for the rest of the season.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

RIDGEFIELD 56, DARIEN 53

RIDGEFIELD (8-5, 5-4 FCIAC)

Zach Esemplare 2 0-1 5 Joseph Newborn 2 4-4 10 Luke McGarrity 1 0-0 2 Alexander Price 5 0-0 13 VonRecklinghausen 1 0-0 4 Chris Longo 1 3-6 6 Nicholas Laudati 7 2-5 16. Totals: 20 9-16 56.

DARIEN (7-5, 6-3)

Zak Swetye 4 0-0 9 William Rolapp 2 0-0 5 Jack Richter 2 0-0 5 Riley Stewart 1 1-4 3 Alex Preston 5 5-6 15 Theo Moore 1 0-3 6 Carter Scott 4 0-0 8 Andrew Darby 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 6-11 53.

RIDGEFIELD 9 13 14 20—56

DARIEN 13 13 10 17—53

3-pointers: R—Esemplare, Newborn 2, Price 3, Longo; D—Swetye, Rolapp, Richter.