Darien’s defense leads the way in win over New Canaan
DARIEN — It’s only two games into the girls basketball season, but Darien has already proved one thing.
It’s going to win with size.
Boasting three girls over 6-feet tall, the Blue Wave used their height advantage — and a smothering defense — to defeat rival New Canaan 57-24 Wednesday night at home.
Darien has started the season quickly at 2-0 and began Wednesday’s contest with that same pace — outscoring the Rams 21-4 in the opening quarter.
“We were looking to pressure their guards and get a few turnovers and some easy baskets,” Blue Wave coach Steve Dunn said of the early game plan. “And it worked out well for us.”
Darien was able to cause turnover after turnover in the tilt; partially because of stifling defense, but also because of the young Rams’ tentativeness to take open looks.
“It comes down to being confident when you’re out on the floor and understanding that we want you to score,” New Canaan coach Kim Palmer said. “And that’ll come with time. As they get more experience out there, they’ll start to recognize they need to put the ball in the basket and when they have an open shot they need to convert.”
One player that has no issue with that concept for New Canaan is Campbell Armstrong. The senior three-year player led the Rams (0-2) with 14 points in the contest.
Her two biggest moments surrounded the halftime buzzer.
With time winding down Armstrong had two big blocks under the rim, keeping the Darien lead at 34-16 at the midway point. To start the third the 6-footer stepped outside and converted one of her two 3-pointers.
“Campbell is not only an offensive threat for us, but she’s a defensive threat as well,” Palmer said. “The kids look up to her out on the floor. Any team that scouts us knows that Campbell is a threat offensively so they put a lot a pressure on her.”
And that’s exactly what Dunn and Darien did.
The Blue Wave switched up their defense, having 6-footer Katie Ramsay follow Armstrong around while still having the luxury of another 6-footer, Christine Fiore, in the paint.
That alignment held New Canaan to just eight points in the second half.
“It’s a nice plus, I’m not going to lie,” said Dunn of his two bigs, who combined for 25 points. “And they’re both very athletic; they can run the floor, they’re quick — it’s a big boost for us.”
With Fiore and Ramsay, as well as 6-2 freshman Hassana Arbubakrr, causing havoc down low ,the Darien guards were able to find some open looks.
And they made them count.
“Our guards were hitting and doing a nice job,” Dunn said. “We’ve been stressing all year that they have to be ready for kick-outs and it worked out pretty well.”
On Saturday, the Blue Wave will leave the friendly confines of the Darien gym for the first time as they travel north to Massachusetts to take on Holyoke.
New Canaan will move on to its home opener Friday night against FCIAC-foe Ridgefield.
NEW CANAAN (0-2)
Emma Garner 0 0-2 0 Emily Shizaro 0 0-2 0 Karlie Bucci 3 1-1 7 Campbell Armstrong 5 2-4 14 Jane Charlton 1 1-2 3. Totals: 9 4-11 24.
DARIEN 21 13 9 14—57
NEW CANAAN 4 12 5 3—24
3-pointers: D—Humphrey 3, Hobbs, King; NC—Armstrong 2.