If Darien was looking for an alarm bell to shake it up for the FCIAC playoffs, it might have been Stamford that heard it ring the loudest.
The Wave climbed over the Knights in the standings in the last game of the regular season with a 63-58 overtime win on the road on Thursday.
The effort and the heart that these girls showed tonight is not something that is coached
— Katie Lauten
Darien (14-4) finishes in fifth place, pushing Stamford (14-5) down to sixth, and plays at fourth place Danbury (15-3) in the FCIAC quarterfinals 1 p.m. Saturday.
“The effort and the heart that these girls showed tonight is not something that is coached,” said Darien coach Katie Lauten, in her first season. “Our coaching staff makes sure we prepare in practice so we are conditioned for games that go into OT and that we are aware of how to handle specific situations, but that’s not enough to get the W.”
Darien’s conditioning going into the playoffs could not have been worked at any harder with the win at Stamford its third game in as many days.
“I feel like I tell myself this after every game, but I could not be more proud of my girls,” Lauten said. “An overtime win, three wins in a matter of three consecutive days…it’s unbelievable.
“But we aren’t ready to stop there.”
The hosts edged Darien 11-9 in the first quarter and Darien fired back in the second to take a 24-18 lead at the half.
It was the Knights coming back to outscore Darien 18-16 in the third quarter and 18-10 for the fourth.
The Wave put it away with a 10-3 margin in OT.
“We are well aware that we have to turn right around and get ready for FCIACs,” Lauten said. “The way we played tonight shows that they are ready to respond to the challenge.”
Meg Marren scored a game-high 26 points, went 6-for-11 from the foul line, grabbed 12 rebounds, had an assist, made four steals, four blocks.
“We said that this was going to be a physical game, and Meg was up for the challenge,” Lauten said. “Often double, and even triple-teamed at times, she was still able to come out as the leading scorer in the game.”
Marren scored her 1,000th career point this week. But she gives 1,000 percent on both ends of the court.
“She was also huge on the defensive end,” Lauten added. “We knew we needed to stop Santagata, she is a very good player and key for their team’s success, and Meg did an excellent job playing her.”
Reaching the career milestone, this single performance seemed a career game for Marren as well.
“Meg also had some great blocks that she was actually able to control and keep possession of to then get the basket on the other end, which is a huge momentum-builder,” Lauten said.
Kate Bushell scored 21 points, went 3-for-3 from the line, had two 3-pointers, five rebounds, three assists, six steals, two blocks.
“Our first basket of the game came off of a hustle play from (Bushell) and that was a huge turning point for us in those first few minutes,” said Lauten. “She gave us that fire we needed.”
Kate the catalyst
“You never know which player is going to ignite it, but I always know someone will, and tonight Kate did that for us, and everyone fed off of that energy,” Lauten said. “She was just feeling it tonight, and nobody was going to take her out of that zone.”
Emily Stein had eight points, two rebounds, five assists, three steals.
“Emily was assigned to their point guard tonight, and she did a phenomenal job,” Lauten said. “Even when I wanted to give her a break, and with four fouls at the end, Emily was determined to not have any excuses to come off that court.
“She played every single second. And on the offensive end, she handled the pressure like a true veteran point guard, adjusting to the changes and reading the passing lanes.
Coach on the court
“I didn’t have to say anything, she is the coach on the court, which is exactly what I expect from my point guard,” said Lauten.
Kelly Karczewski had 10 points, one rebound, six assists, one steal.
And she was court drama queen of the evening, sinking the clutch basket of the game.
“I know Kelly was getting frustrated at times during the game with her shooting,” Lauten said. “But I think putting that basket in to get us into OT was a huge confidence booster, for both herself, and the team.”
Freshman Erin Karczewski had two rebounds, seven assists, two steals.
“Erin did a great job guarding Cody tonight, another player we knew we needed to key in on,” said Lauten. “As our leader in assists tonight, Erin is also constantly showing her great court-vision and awareness, which is something so important against a good defensive team like Stamford.”
Kendra Fitzpatrick made a steal, one block; Kaeleigh Morrill contributed, as did, Kate Fiore.
Stamford: Cody 10 points; Fodiman five; Gordon seven; Fortt 14; Santagata 12; Merone two; England eight.