FAIRFIELD — Even with a 17-point lead in the second quarter, the Ludlowe girls basketball teanm was not comfortable against rival town rival Warde.
As the second half went on, Warde inched closer and closer, eventually tying the game with 1:11 to play.
With the game tied, Ludlowe had to dig down for whatever was left in reserve.
The Falcons got a big basket from Laura Herron and hit free throws in the final minute, holding on for a 44-39 win in the opening game of the Coaches vs Cancer double header with the boys teams from each school playing in the nightcap.
“We have been working a lot on mental toughness in close situations,” Ludlowe coach Sara Kinsley said. “The goal of ours in the second half of the season has been finishing a game. Warde is a very skilled team and this is a big rivalry game. We knew they’d come out strong in the second half. Am so proud of my girls for their composure, at the end.”
Ludlowe led 26-13 at the half and 34-23 after three.
Two free throws by Maya Henry with 1:11 tied the game 38-38, the only time the game was tied since the opening tip.
Ludlowe’s Herron was able to get inside for a basket, giving her team a lead it would not relinquish.
Warde was led by 16 points from Carolyn Mills, including 10 in the fourth quarter, leading the rally.
The win keeps Ludlowe’s FCIAC playoff hopes alive.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Juliet Bucher, Ludlowe: The junior scored a team-high 13 points, including two clutch free throws in the fourth quarter, helping seal the win.
“We haven’t beat Warde in a long time and it was nice to see us get together and get this team win,” Bucher said. “It was important in those timeouts to get everyone together and focus on each other, don’t focus on the crowd and that’s what we did.”
LUDLOWE 44 WARDE 39
LUDLOWE 16 10 6 9—44
WARDE 6 7 10 16—39
Laura Herron 3 0-0 6; Juliet Bucher 4 2-2 13; Emma Torello 2 2-3 6; Anna Paulmann 4 0-4 8; Ira Boci 0 0-0 0; Kaleigh Sommers 2 0-0 4; Madison Roman 1 3-6 4; Caitlin Finnegan 0 1-2 1. Totals: 16 8-17 44
WARDE (6-9 )
Maya Henry 2 2-4 6; Teagan Tully 0 0-3 0; Carolyn Mills; 6 4-5 16; Joni Lampanski 3 1-3 10; Grace Conway 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 7-17 39