Seniors star as Darien qualifies for FCIAC girls basketball playoffs

It’s a fitting storyline that on a night the Darien Blue Wave celebrated the girls basketball careers of seniors Christine Fiore, Katie Ramsay and Hailey King, those three were also the leading scorers in a 62-34 win over the Westhill Vikings.

Darien senior co-captain Christine Fiore (21) battles for position with Westhill’s Tamar Bellette (14). — Dave Stewart photo

The pregame Senior Night ceremony was great, but the real celebration came approximately 15 minutes after the Wave’s victory had ended.

A celebration erupted at center court when the Wave learned that the Warde Mustangs had defeated the Ludlowe Falcons, 41-38, and Darien was at last headed to the FCIAC playoffs.

The Wave (11-9 overall, 9-7 FCIAC) moved in front of Ludlowe (10-10, 8-8) and grabbed the league’s No. 8 seed. Darien needed a loss by the Falcons in order to qualify, as Ludlowe had beaten the Wave on Feb. 1 and thus had the tiebreaker.

Darien will take on No. 1 Trumbull (19-1, 15-1) in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, at Norwalk High School.

When they learned their playoff fate, the Wave players swarmed around head coach Melba Chambers in a celebration at the middle of the court.

For the three seniors, qualifying for the league tournament for the first time is an achievement that’s been a long time coming.

“It’s big for us,” Fiore said. “We’ve never made it in our four years here, so coming out senior and making the FCIACs is a great accomplishment.”

Darien senior co-captain Katie Ramsay seems to be walking on air as she drives to the hoop on Wednesday. — Dave Stewart photo

“We’ve fought a bunch of battles this year, a lot of hard fights, and it’s all paid off,” Ramsay said. “Now we’re ready to show everyone what we’ve got in FCIACs.

“We got in but we know it’s just one (step),” King said. “We’ve got to beat Trumbull.”

While the Wave needed Ludlowe to lose on the final day, they still had to take care of business against a Westhill squad which was just 1-19 this year, but had played tough against the playoff-bound Stamford Black Knights on Monday.

Darien wasted no time putting its stamp on the game, as the Wave scored the first eight points. After Westhill got on the scoreboard, scoring the next 10 for an 18-2 lead late in the first quarter and a 20-6 advantage heading to the second.

Fiore and Ramsay dominated the scoring in the first quarter, combining for 18 of the 20 points, with Fiore netting 10 and Ramsay scoring eight.

Darien pushed the lead to 26-6 early in the second when the Vikings showed some life and closed the half with a 14-5 run to cut the deficit to 11 points at halftime.

The lead was 13 in the third quarter, when the Wave went on a 14-2 run which was capped by back-to-back three-pointers from King in the final minute.

Leading 50-25, Darien closed out the game with a 12-9 fourth quarter.

Fiore finished with a game-high 19 points, with Ramsay adding 13 and King netting eight. Sophomore Kelly Richter scored six; and sophomore Lindsay Dimonekas and junior Rachel Stobbie each had four.

After the final horn, the waiting and searching for twitter updates started, as Ludlowe and Warde went down to the wire in their game. Darien has played the waiting game in prior seasons when things didn’t go quite as well. This time, it was different.

“In past years, it’s come down to stuff like that and it hasn’t gone out way,” Ramsay said. “But it finally has (this year) and it’s really nice for senior year. We get to go out with a bang.”

Darien, which carries a five-game win streak into the postseason, will have its work cut out against Trumbull, which has won six straight and is ranked No. 3 in the GameTimeCt state poll.

The Wave held their ground against the Eagles earlier this season, on Jan. 3, ending up on the losing end of a 49-41 score. In that game, Darien fell behind 14-8 in the first quarter, but stayed close the rest of the way, as they were outscored just 35-33 over the final three quarters.

The Wave has been playing great defensively, which has been a strength of the team, and will look to clean up any mistakes in the postseason.

“We’ve gotten this far with the mistakes we’ve made,” King said. “So if we don’t make mistakes we’re going to go even farther.”

“We’ve just got to play our hardest,” Fiore said. “We know they’re a good team, but we played them at the beginning of the season and we almost had them. We lost by eight points, so if we play hard, we can definitely do it.”

Darien 62, Westhill 34

Wednesday, Feb. 14, at Darien HS

Westhill 6-14-5-9 34

Darien 20-11-19-12 64

Westhill: Maddy Bautista 5 0-0 12, Peyton Hackett 6 3-3 15, Meghan Lavelle 0 0-0 0, Samantha Johns-Folkes 1 0-2 2, Tamar Belette 1 0-0 2, Grace Hansen 1 1-4 3, Grace Tufano 0 0-0 0, Nia Holley 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 4-9 34

Darien: Kelly Richter 2 2-2 6, Boucher 1 0-0 2, Gwen Dolce 1 0-0 2, Lindsay Dimonekas 1 2-4 4, Caroline Krueger 1 0-0 2, Katie Ramsay 4 4-12 13, Christine Fiore 8 3-7 19, Rachel Stobbie 2 0-1 4, Hailey King 2 2-2 8, Hassana Arbubakrr 1 0-0 2, Emma Blenke 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 12-26 62

3-pointers: Westhill – Bautista 2; Darien – King 2

Darien senior co-captain Hailey King drives to the hoop during Wednesday’s girls basketball game at Darien High School. — Dave Stewart photo

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