There were so many storylines to yesterday’s girls basketball game between Stamford and Staples, a 37-35 Black Knights win that was their 10th in a row. Some thoughts:
— As almost everyone acknowledges this is one of the weakest years in girls basketball in recent memory, certainly in the 25 years I have been covering it. Coaches privately admit it. There have been a number of ugly games that are now more the norm rather than aberrations, some that resemble scrums. Yesterday both teams, considered among the FCIAC’s best, struggled to score points. Some of that can be attributed to good defense. Many are wondering if this is a beginning of the downfall for the sport. That is a little bit drastic. Until proven otherwise, consider it more than nothing cyclical.
— Yesterday’s game ended with the two teams combining to miss 9 straight free throws. It was part of an overall pattern in which Stamford was 4 of 16 from the foul line, while Staples was just 10 of 19. With many low-scoring games, that is going to end up costing teams victories.
— Stamford is going to see a number of defenses designed to contain Fiona O’Dwyer, its top scorer, the rest of the way. That is going to make it incumbent on others to step up. Lauren Beluk assumed that role yesterday, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 15 points. If the Black Knights can score from the perimeter, it will open things up for O’Dywer.
— Eliza Howe is one of the best players in the league. Despite having a case of the flu that kept her out of practice the previous two games, Howe played all 32 minutes and scored 21 points, singlehandedly keeping the Wreckers in the game. Had Howe not run out of gas — she missed seven of 15 foul shots — the outcome might have been different.
— It is too easy to criticize officiating, though again it has been a popular topic among coaches, who think this year is the worst it has ever been. The feeling here is the expectations are always low, but the level of inconsistency is troubling. Last night, after Beluk missed two free throws with 4.5 seconds left and his team trailing by two points, Staples coach Ed Huydic wanted to call a timeout but was unable to because the officials never looked in his direction. A good one would have anticipated the possibility given the situation and had an eye on the coach and one on the action.
— The last play, among others, called Huydic to go into a profanity-laced tirade after the game, especially while the teams were shaking hands. One could understand Huydic’s frustration, but he was out of line for his use of language in front of all the players. Stamford principal Rodney Bass was at the game and it appeared as if he was going to report the incident.
— Last night reinforced that, after unbeaten Fairfield Warde, there is not much to distinguish between the next 6-8 teams in the league. A berth in the final will likely hinge on which team gets hot at the end of the season.