BRIDGEPORT-- Look out for the Blue Wave in crunch time. For the second year in a row, Darien High School's girls basketball team qualified for the FCIAC Tournament by winning its final regular season game. The Blue Wave earned a spot in the conference tourney with an easy 73-17 win at Bassick High School on Wednesday.

Emily Stein led the way with 15 points, Kate Bushell scored nine, Daley Naughton dropped in eight, Kelly Karezewski had seven and Lesley Yuen and Amy Biggart each added six in the triumph, as Darien finished the regular season with a 12-8 overall record. Darien cashed in on Bassick turnovers, many of which were forced by strong defensive pressure and built an early lead to cruise to the win.

For the second straight year, Darien earns the No. 8 seed in the FCIAC tourney and will have to kickoff the playoffs by going head-to-head with a top-seeded and undefeated team. The only difference is that the undefeated team this season is Danbury, whereas last year it was Trumbull.

"It's always stressful waiting until the last day. The only problem with this is your seed," Darien Coach Gary Peterson said. "When you do it in this manner you play the top teams."

Of course, just getting into the conference playoffs for the second year in a row is a step in the right direction for a program that had struggled to win in recent campaigns.

"We met our goal for the second year in a row," Peterson said. "Before that, we hadn't gotten there five years in a row. We're showing growth."

"I think it's just exciting for our program," Stein added. "We're finally making a name for our program and showing we can make it. I think if we just play to our ability we should have a good shot. If we work together it's possible we'll keep going far."

The key to winning in the playoffs will be working hard and playing the way Darien has been, according to Stein, whose team won its last two regular season games, including a critical 49-42 victory over Fairfield Warde.

Darien, needs to rebound, protect the ball and avoid turnovers, according to Peterson.

"That's what we have to do -- value the basketball," Peterson said.

Just like every other team in the FCIAC, Darien fell to Danbury in the regular season, coming up on the short end of a 55-36 score at Darien High School on Jan. 24.

Despite Danbury's unblemished record, Peterson sounds as though he's expecting a highly-competitive game in the FCIAC quarterfinals on Saturday at 2 p.m.

"If we come to play I really think we can beat any team in this league," Peterson said. "We're in the games. I'm positive that we can win a big game. We'll find out. They're a really good team."

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