WESTPORT -- Mission accomplished. Well, first mission accomplished anyway. The Darien High School girls' basketball team earned its state playoff berth-clinching eighth win with a 46-35 win at Staples on Wednesday night.

"It's good to get it out of the way," said Darien Coach Gary Peterson, adding that the team needs to stay focused as it tries to clinch a spot in the harder-to-make FCIAC playoffs. As successful as his team has been to this point, posting an 8-3 overall record (6-3 in the FCIAC), the coach isn't taking anything for granted.

"We got to this point last year and lost five in a row," he notes. "We don't want to do that again. I think we're a better team."

More Information

Fact box

The Blue Wave went on to win three late-season games to finish with the upper hand in 11 contests last year, but Peterson is targeting at least 12 wins and thinks that's what it will take to get into the FCIAC tourney this year.

Peterson liked the effort in the Staples game. The Wave carried a 17-12 lead into halftime and blew the game open on a 19-4 run in the third quarter. Meg Marren led the way with 12 points, Nicole Buch added 10, Kate Buschell scored 7 and Emily Stein had 6. Buch also compiled 13 rebounds. Darien used fast-break opportunities to build a big lead and Staples, which was missing one of its top players, Nicki Brill, couldn't come back despite a strong fourth-quarter effort. Staples fell to 6-6 (5-5 in the FCIAC).

Peterson noted that Staples was a bit shorthanded but was pretty pleased with his team's effort. "They showed up. They played hard," Peterson said of his team members. "I think they gave a good effort. Right now I think we're playing good basketball." The coach did say he'd like to see the girls cut down on turnovers.

The team will look to keep winning when it takes on an always-tough Ridgefield team, on the road, on Friday, Jan. 21 (weather permitting -- more snow was predicted at press time). "Any time you go up there it's not too fun," said Peterson, adding "I think we have a good shot. We just have to be more disciplined with the ball."

Darien is scheduled to host Greenwich and Trinity Catholic next week, and still has nine regular season games remaining as it makes a push for a spot in the FCIAC tourney.

Buch says the team is a lot more experienced than it was a year ago and is confident in the team making a run into both the state and conference tournaments. "I'm really looking forward to it. It's my last season so I want to give it may all," she said.