Staples runs past Wilton in second half

It wasn’t always pretty, but Staples did enough to turn aside Wilton, 54-49, on Tuesday evening at home.

The Wreckers turned it on in the second half with help from their two leading scorers. Guard Peter Rankowitz scored a game-high 20 points — hitting four 3-pointers — while James Frusciante had 16.

Staples' Peter Rankowitz.

Rankowitz nailed two treys on both ends of a 10-0 run spanning from late in the third quarter to early in the fourth. The Wreckers built their largest lead of the second half, 40-30, at the start of the fourth.

“Pete had a great game on both ends of the floor,” Staples coach Colin Devine said. “He also had the tough task of guarding their best player, Weston Wilbur. I think he did a great job on him as well.”

Wilbur ended the night scoring eight points. Guard Matt Shifrin led Wilton with 15 points.

***Staples’ four-game losing streak seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?

Since a 32-30 loss to Fairfield Ludlowe on Jan. 10, which dropped the Wreckers to 3-5, the wins have quietly piled back up. The Wreckers (9-6) have now won six of their last seven with a huge tilt against Westhill (14-1) coming on Friday.

“Coaches always say it, and I say it every year, ‘We’ve won six of our last seven and you want to play your best basketball towards the end of the year, tournament time. Hopefully we keep putting ourselves in positions to play in the FCIAC tournament.”

With a 8-5 FCIAC record, the Wreckers are currently sitting in seventh in the conference’s eight-team playoff field. The Wreckers now also own a head-to-head tiebreaker over eighth-place Wilton (7-6) should that come into play down the road.

***One of the keys to Staples’ offense this year has been its ability to run, and run some more. When the Wreckers are able to get in open space, they’re lethal. They’ve had a bit more difficulty at times in their half-court sets.

On Tuesday, the Wreckers were able to move the ball quickly, especially during their second-half run. Rankowitz’s 3-pointer — which put Wilton behind 40-30 — came off the fast break.

“Even when we scored, they got back quickly,” Wilton coach Joel Geriak said. “That 7-0 run gave them some breathing room. We fought back and we made it a game at the end. We just didn’t quite pull it out.”