Tuesday is, arguably, the biggest date on the Fairfield high school athletic calendar.
Fairfield is a basketball town. There’s no two ways about it. And Tuesday night pits Fairfield’s two public high school teams against each other.
Warde will trek across town to take on Ludlowe. The girls will serve as Tuesday’s appetizer at 6 p.m.; the boys will be the main dish, starting just before 8 p.m.
In an interesting twist of fate, each team enters Tuesday coming off a loss. Ludlowe was swept by Stamford Friday. The Falcons girls were smacked, falling behind 35-6 in their 53-31 loss to the Black Knights Friday.
Stamford’s boys squad gained its second league win, 44-41, over Ludlowe in overtime
“It was very disappointing,” Ludlowe coach Brian Silvestro said. “We had kids so upset by that game; they were more upset than I’ve seen these kids in a while.”
Warde had its bye Friday, but the Mustangs are coming off tandem losses to Westhill last Tuesday. The girls fell by 19 in Stamford to the Vikings.
The boys actually played at Ludlowe against the Vikings– thanks to a roof leak at Warde.
The Falcons and Mustangs boys have already met this season. Ludlowe pummeled Warde, 55-39, on Dec. 28 in the Prep Holiday Classic consolation game. Connor Peterson and Patrick Gutierrez combined for 33 of Ludlowe’s 55.
On the girls side, Warde can clinch a state tournament berth with a win over
Ludlowe. The Mustangs are 7-7, and have lost four of five after a 6-3 start– though all four of those losses came to teams in the FCIAC’s top five.
Ludlowe’s girls are just a game out of the eighth FCIAC playoff berth and can boost their chances with a win.
Sarah Huntington, in her third year of head coaching at Ludlowe, has never beaten Warde in three tries. The Mustangs trumped Ludlowe 46-43 a year ago.
“It’s going to be an excellent matchup,” Huntington said Friday. “It’s a great crosstown rivalry … it’s going to be a great game.”
Huntington has ample respect for Warde coach Dave Danko and realizes that you can toss the record books out when these teams square off.
- “It’s Warde/Ludlowe,” she said. “It doesn’t even matter the record. It’s always a good game.”
Danko has requested that his team take pride in itself before it takes the floor.
“It’s a rivalry game,” he said. “We have to look at the uniform and play for our school and play with pride.
“I think good things will happen.”
In the nightcap, both squads are just interested in consistency.
The Falcons have lost three straight, averaging just 44 points per game. If you look at Ludlowe’s last six games– of which the Falcons have lost four– it is averaging just 41.1 points per game. Ludlowe is shooting just 37 percent from the field this year.
“We just haven’t executed,” Silvestro said.
Warde’s lost three of four and currently sits at 3-9. The Mustangs must finish 5-3 to qualify for the state tournament– a feat that will be near-impossible if they can’t beat their crosstown rival.
“We can’t give away any games with some of the teams we have left,” Warde coach Ryan Swaller said Monday. “We’re going to have to play at a high level and play at a more consistent level.”
But if the Mustangs do beat Ludlowe, they’ll gain some confidence entering a stretch of winnable games. Warde plays home against Staples Friday, New Canaan on Feb. 5, then Darien on Feb. 12.
“A win (against Ludlowe) could catapult us,” Swaller said.
Silvestro admitted he’s expecting a different Warde team on Tuesday.
“I think they’ll be as prepared, if not better prepared for us,” he said. “I think they’re a pretty hungry basketball team.”
I’ll be at both games, offering updates on Twitter.
Follow me for scores and analysis.
Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper. Follow him on Twitter here.