Fairfield Warde was a tad sluggish early on in its FCIAC girls basketball game Friday night at home against New Canaan. But once the Mustangs got rolling, there were only a few blips and bleeps that could be charted on the negative side of their ledger in a 60-18 victory over the winless Rams.
Warde didn't make a basket until the third minute of the game, trailing by 3-0 on Ari Reilly's 3-pointer 19 seconds into the contest. Michelle Treglia got Warde's offense rolling with her bucket. By the end of the quarter, though, New Canaan (0-9) was facing a 17-3 deficit. The Rams' drought ended in the first minute of the second quarter, but it encountered a 30-9 Warde lead heading into the halftime break.
Three Mustangs reached double-figures -- Kaitlin McKenna with 12 points, Tiara Fountain 11 and freshman Iliana Krasniqi 10 -- as they improved to 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the FCIAC. Eleven of the 13 Warde players who got into the game scored.
The victory gave coach Dave Danko his 23rd consecutive year with a Fairfield High School or Warde team qualifying for the CIAC state tournament.
The balance of the season for Warde will be spent trying to qualify with a high seed for the FCIAC tournament next month and, of course, a better seeding once the state Class LL playoffs roll around as March approaches. As the evening ended, Warde stood ninth among the 28 teams that are playing at a pace to make the LL tournament.
"It shows that there are so many talented players in town," Danko said of meeting the early state qualifying standard, noting that Ludlowe -- which beat the Mustangs by a point in the Todd Burger Tournament finals on Dec. 30 -- is also 8-1. "Basketball right now in Fairfield is at a high level. We've maintained (tournament-eligble status) due to our work ethic. We have 32 girls in our program and Ludlowe has 24 or 25, I believe."
Danko said that Masuk, of Monroe, has the longest current streak of consecutively qualifying for the state tournament, at 36 years. He noted that Staples was up to 29 years, until missing the grade in 2012-13.
New Canaan, which started a senior, two juniors and two ninth-graders, was led by 12th-grader Reilly's nine points -- all 3-pointers.
"I knew they (Mustangs) were well-coached, and that showed on the floor," New Canaan coach Kim Palmer said. "They're a good team that works well together. Dave does a good job. He has a lot of girls who have bought into their system, and that was reflected on the scoreboard."
The Rams, whose average margin of loss before Friday was by 24 points, displayed some positives, in Palmer's view. "I liked our level of intensity and our attitude," Palmer said. "We fought from start to finish. We didn't play scared. I know that the scoreboard doesn't reflect that."
Danko said Warde could have done a better job of running. "We could have pushed it a little more; we could have run our fastbreak more early on," Danko said. "And our shooters passed up some shots.
"But it's good when you get everyone feeling good about themselves. We had to execute and we had to run our sets. It was good that we saw (from New Canaan) a 2-3 zone, an extended zone and man-to-man defense. And we ran our sets well."
Danko said he was interested to see how the Mustangs would respond after their 51-50 loss to Ludlowe 11 days earlier. Following a seven-day layoff, Warde defeated Darien (51-37), Greenwich (45-43) and New Canaan in a four-day stretch.
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Fairfield Warde 60, New Canaan 18
NEW CANAAN (0-9)
Elizabeth Miller 1 1-4 3 Tess Decker 1 0-2 2 Ali Reilly 3 0-0 9 Erica Smith 2 0-0 4 Marina Braccio 0 0-1 0 Campbell Armstrong 0 0-0 0. Totals: 7 1-7 18.
FAIRFIELD WARDE (8-1)
Michelle Treglia 1 2-2 4 Daja Polk 1 0-0 2 Kenzie Burns 0 0-0 0 Lejla Markovic 1 0-0 2 Jacqui Lanese 0 0-0 0 Mollie Kerrigan 1 3-4 5 Carley Strachan 3 0-0 6 Kaitlin McKenna 5 2-6 12 Charlotte Choinski 0 1-3 1 Gabby Howard 2 0-2 4 Iliana Krasniqi 4 2-5 10 Sarah Cotto 1 0-0 3 Tiara Fountain 2 6-6 11. Totals 21 16-28 60.
NEW CANAAN 3 6 3 6--18
FAIRFIELD WARDE 17 13 21 9--60
3-pointers: NC--Reilly 3; FW--Cotto, Fountain.