DARIEN -- Under the circumstances it would have been easy for first-year Darien coach Charoy Bentley to get distracted by the opposing bench.

Friday night the Blue Wave fell 58-46 to the Presidents of Harding, the same Harding where Bentley played his high school career and where his father, Charlie, was a storied coach.

While in years past Bentley would have the ball on the court in the away blue jerseys, he now stood on the sideline coaching up the team in white, something he said wasn't challenging in the slightest.

"I knew exactly where I was at," Bentley said of his in-game attitude. "I'm a member of the Blue Wave now, Harding is in my past."

For a coach in his first year, it can be hard to leave your alma matter in the past, but even in the days leading up to the game that's exactly where Harding resided for Bentley.

"No pressure; I wasn't even thinking about it," said Bentley, who also played collegiately at St. Joseph. "I just took it as another chance to get better, I wasn't thinking that, `Oh this is Harding I have to beat them.' My father coached there, I went there but it didn't cross my mind once."

Harding coach Charles Clemons lauded Bentley for the job he's doing with a young Darien squad in his first year and included the play of Blue Wave sophomore center Alex Preston.

"Charoy is doing a really good job," Clemons said. "And Alex (19 points) is a hell of a player; there are no easy games in the FCIAC."

Clemons' team led almost the entire game, but with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter Darien (1-5) tied the game at 42. However, there the Presidents (3-3) went on a 16-4 run to close the contest and seal the win.

"We've been in this position and we coughed it up against Fairfield Warde and Ridgefield," Clemons said. "So I think this is good for the confidence, especially for the younger players."

Harding was able to ice the game mostly on the defensive side as its constant full-court pressure and traps proved too much to handle at times for Darien.

"It's about the kids, they are on the team for a reason," said Clemons, who rotated in 16 different players in the contest. "When parents come to the came they want to see their kid play; I'm a parent, I want to see my son play so we're in this together. Everybody has an opportunity and I think they're buying into that."

For Bentley and his youthful squad it's about getting better every game, something he thinks they've accomplished so far this year, starting with how they handled Harding's press.

"I think we handled it very well," Bentley said. "We're improving, that's No. 1; I know our first two games we probably averaged about 30 turnovers and we probably had about 10 today so we're getting better and I'm proud of them."

While this year may be a rebuilding one for the rookie coach, he refuses to use it as an excuse, hoping by the end of the year Darien is a team opposing teams don't want to see.

"Once we get to our potential, we're going to be tough to handle."

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

Harding 58, Darien 46


TJ Killings 6 2-3 15 Zach Stewart 1 1-2 4 Taisun Phommachanh 2 0-0 4 Keon Evans 1 2-2 4 Marquis Davis 1 0-0 2 Justin Sheffield 2 2-6 7 Eric Moore 1 0-0 3 Calvin Seward 1 2-6 4 Anthony Gadsden 2 0-0 4 Tremaine Pettway 3 0-0 7 Ramir Johnson 2 0-0 4. Totals: 22 9-19 58.

DARIEN (1-5)

Justin Jordan 1 0-1 3 Jackson Ryan 2 4-4 8 Riley Stewart 0 2-2 2 Alex Preston 6 7-10 19 Baylor Stewart 2 1-2 5 Carter Scott 4 0-0 9. Totals: 15 14-19 46.

HARDING 15 17 10 16--58

DARIEN 9 14 16 7--46

3-pointers: H--Killings, Sheffield, Pettway, Moore; D--Jordan, Scott.