Greenwich High

Fairfield Ludlowe defeats Greenwich girls basketball team in quarterfinal-round of FCIAC Tournament, behind a fast start

Photo by David Fierro: Caitlin Finnegan of Fairfield Ludlowe, left and Kelly Martyanov contest for the jump ball at the start of an FCIAC Tournament quarterfinal-round basketball game at Staples High School in Westport on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022.

Fairfield Ludlowe was on point literally from the opening tip of this afternoon’s FCIAC Tournament quarterfinal-round basketball game against Greenwich.

Senior forward Kaleigh Sommers converted a layup several seconds after the Falcons gained possession after the game-opening jump ball and plenty of more baskets followed for coach Sarah Kinsley’s third-seeded team.

Using its size in its frontcourt to its advantage, Fairfield Ludlowe made numerous shots in the paint and played an effective inside-outside game on its way to recording a 63-39 win over sixth-seeded Greenwich in the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals held at Staples High School in Westport.

The Falcons (18-3), who are riding a seven-game winning streak, bolted out to a 14-0 lead, held a 20-5 advantage after the first quarter and took a commanding 36-11 edge into halftime. Junior 6-foot forward Kaleigh Sommers led all scorers with 16 points for Ludlowe, which is aiming to win its first FCIAC title.

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Madison Roman looks to pass the ball from the high post while being guarded by Greenwich’s Julia Monteiro during an FCIAC Tournament quarterfinal-round game at Staples High School in Westport.

Madison Roman, a junior 6-foot center, totaled 15 points, while junior Caitlin Finnegan, a 6-2 forward/center, added 12 points for Ludlowe, which shot the ball efficiently from the floor – especially during their outstanding first half.

“We said that from the start we wanted to come out really strong, it was one of our key points to pulling out a win,” said Sommers, also a star lacrosse player at Ludlowe. “We said that if we come out strong nothing could stop us, we had energy from the start and that really helped contribute to our win.”

The Cardinals (12-9) received 12 points from junior point guard Carolyn Frankle and 10 points from senior guard Kristin Riggs. Greenwich didn’t score its first points of the game until Frankle swished a pair of foul shots with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter. The Falcons played a strong man-to-man defense and the Cardinals missed several layups in the opening quarter.

“They came out and physically outpowered us,” GHS coach Rashamel Jones said. “The first quarter, second quarter, they were dominant. Once they got on the boards on us and were snatching the rebounds, we may have become a little timid. I give Ludlowe all the credit in the world. Their front line is a big front line and they know what to do with the ball. I hope they eventually end winning this tournament, they have a very good team.”

Greenwich’s Kristin Riggs looks to pass the ball during the Cardinals’ FCIAC Tournament game vs. Ludlowe.

Ludlowe played a good high-low post game, effectively penetrated to the basket and when Greenwich collapsed on drives to the basket, the Falcons kicked the ball out to the perimeter, where Rory Kudzy and Phoebe Shostak made several shots.

Kuzdy, who scored 22 points in the Falcons’ 59-48 regular season victory against the Cardinals, had eight points, while Shostak scored all seven of her points in the first half.

“Our motto this year is strength in unity and we just talk about one more pass,” Kinsley said. “If we’re passing, then the defense has to move and we capitalize on all of our strengths. This is an extremely versatile group. At all times we have five people on the court who are threats.”

Said Sommers: “Today was a great team win, I think everyone contributed. It didn’t matter what position anyone played. We like to use our strengths. I think that it was really good team ball out there today.”

Sommers made the game’s opening basket, Finnegan scored off an inbound pass and Sommers scored four straight points, giving Ludlowe an 8-0 lead and prompting coach Jones to call a timeout with 4:29 to go in the first quarter. Six more points, four of which came from Sommers, put the Cardinals in a 14-0 hole at the 2:03 mark of the opening quarter.

Greenwich’s Zaniyah Huggins posts up Ludlowe’s Madison Roman during an FCIAC quarterfinal-round matchup.

“Going into the game we knew Ludlowe had size in the post and we knew our posts had to step it up,” said Greenwich senior forward Kayla Anderson, one of the team’s captains. “Unfortunately, in the first half, I don’t think we brought the energy we needed. We fought until the last buzzer, but it was very hard to fight back. The first half was not us.”

Riggs made a 3-pointer in the first quarter for Greenwich, which saw Ludlowe begin the second quarter with a 9-2 run to seize a 29-7 lead. Shostak’s baseline jumper and 3-pointer, Sommers short jump shot and guard Kate Cimador’s shot from beyond the arc just before the buzzer sounded put the Falcons on top, 36-11 at halftime.

“They are a well-constructed team, they pass the ball and now I’m rooting for them,” said Riggs, a captain. “Sometimes it’s rough to come out of the game. I’m proud of how we played in the second half, but sometimes you start off slow and you have to pick yourself out of a hole.”

Displaying patience, Ludlowe used crisp passes to keep Greenwich’s man-to-man defense moving and consistently getting good looks at the basket. The Falcons also forced several turnovers that resulted in points.

Greenwich’s Kelly Martyanov lines up a foul shot during second-half action of the FCIAC quarterfinals.

“We really talked about sharing the basketball,” Kinsley said. “We have three amazing captains and they’re so selfless, they give everyone an opportunity to be a leader.”

Ludlowe’s biggest lead was 51-16 late in the third quarter. Greenwich then began hitting some shots and caused a few turnovers. Frankle scored eight second-half points, while Riggs had seven in the second half.

“Something we’ve been working on all season is to try not to go into lulls,” Sommers said. “Our second half that shows that we have room to improve.”

Martyanov had five points, junior guard Sophia Sergio had four points and Anderson added four points for the Cardinals, who received a basket apiece from junior forward Zaniyah Huggins and sophomore forward Julia Monteiro.

“I feel like preparation wise, they just mentally were there way more than we were and they just came out strong,” Sergio said of Ludlowe. “We fought until the end and that’s all we could have done. We have a lot of practice time like two weeks, before states, so we have to be mentally prepared.”

Said Martyanov: “Their post game, we couldn’t really stop it. They’re really good inside and quick. We came in as underdogs, we had that mentality and we didn’t start off strong. I thought the third and fourth quarter we were the team we always are, but we just let them get up by too much, too early.”

There is plenty of season left for the Cardinals, as they will compete in the CIAC Class LL Tournament.

“It’s back to the drawing board Monday at practice and hopefully, we can go deeper in the state tournament,” Jones said. “It’s not over yet.”

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