New Canaan High School's girls' basketball team shook off a little rust and continued its winning ways in a pair of road games this past week. The Rams, after nearly a week away from game action, and only a couple of practices thanks to snow days, overcame a slow start and held off a competitive host Fairfield Ludlowe team, 49-44 on Thursday, Feb. 3. They then knocked off Greenwich, 44-33, for consecutive win number four, to carry a 13-4 overall record into this week's action.

Against Ludlowe, now only a four-win young team, New Canaan didn't do some of the things coach Kim Palmer is accustomed to seeing her team do.

"It was a struggle. We lost touch with some of the fundamentals we've worked on the past few months," said Palmer, referring to setting screens, boxing out, making cuts and spacing. What's more, the Rams were without Christina Loop, who sustained a concussion in the team's previous game, a big 67-61 win over 12-win Ridgefield on Jan. 28.

Palmer credited the Falcons for playing a strong game too. "They came ready to play tonight. They gave everything they had. They're going to be good in the future -- not that they're not good now, but they're young."

The Rams, specifically high-scorer Sarah Mannelly and Courtney Rogers, were too much for the Falcons. Mannelly dropped in a whopping 26 points and Rogers had 16. Mannelly said the team compensates for lack of practice time, due to snow days, before games with more intense pregame efforts. "We try to make up for the lost practice in our warmups," she said.

In their next game, against Greenwich the next night, the Rams got 18 points -- all on an overflowing handful of 3-pointers by Rogers -- and 12 points and 10 rebounds from Mannelly. Kelly Armstrong added seven points.

Palmer, of course, was thrilled with the scoring performances by Mannelly and Rogers in recent games, but she has also been pleased with the play of some of the bench players who have come in to provide a spark with Loop injured and the starters needing breathers. Palmer points to the play of Raquel Roganti, Georgia Hunsinger and Armstrong.

"Some of our bench players are starting to step up," the coach said. "Those three have really stepped up and made thing happen for us when we've needed them most."

With several teams batting for one of the top four spots and a home game to begin the eight-team FCIAC Tournament, Palmer notes that every win is important. The Rams, following Tuesday's clash with Bridgeport Central, will host Fairfield Warde on Feb. 10 and entertain Trumbull on Feb. 16 to close out the regular season.

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