Ridgefield continues success at Zeoli Field House with boys basketball victory over Wilton

Photo of Joe Morelli

WILTON — The chants came from the Ridgefield student section late in Friday’s game against Wilton.

“This is our house!” came the chant. Sure, that chant happens almost every time the road team wins, or is comfortably ahead. But in this case, there is definitely some merit to it for Ridgefield, which defeated Wilton 69-55 at Zeoli Field House.

“We’ve had some success here,” Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan said. “I think we have success because we’re a good basketball team that’s prepared to play and our kids have really executed in these big games.”

The Tigers have won four consecutive FCIAC tournament titles. Three of them came at Zeoli Field House, which seats over 2,000 people. That includes last March, a 46-40 victory over Wilton.

Or “The McClellan Field House”  as one Ridgefield player jokingly called it following the game.

“It’s always amazing playing well with such a big crowd,” Ridgefield junior center Nick Sganga said.

This is also the sixth straight win in the series for Ridgefield (13-2), the No. 6 team in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll.

“They’re good, well-coached. The way their defense is set up, it’s hard to simulate (in practice),” Wilton coach Joel Geriak said.

McClellan noted the three straight weekends of solid road wins: vs. Danbury at Western Connecticut State University two weeks ago, at Windsor last Saturday, and now Wilton (12-4) at the Zeoli Field House.

The Tigers have managed to defeat four teams that either are or have been ranked in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll: Notre Dame-Fairfield, Windsor, Danbury and St. Bernard. The wins over St. Bernard and Windsor were by a combined 56 points.

It all adds up to 11 consecutive victories for Ridgefield.

More important than the success at the field house is the Tigers controlling their own destiny to be the top seed in the league tournament again. They have a one-game lead over Danbury and Fairfield Warde with four games remaining, but own the tiebreaker over both teams thanks to victories over both.

The Tigers have done it with balanced scoring all season long. Ian Swiatowicz made five 3-point shots en route to 16 points.

Sganga finished with 13, including seven coming in the fourth quarter. Those points, along with some clutch offensive rebounds, helped Ridgefield remain in control for most of the second half.

“In the second half, Nick did what Nick does, he slowed down and then was able to make all those finishes,” McClellan said. “He is a tough kid. He is a big, tough, skilled kid who has had a helluva season so far.”

Sganga played on the JV level last season.The junior is filling a void that occurred when all-state center Dylan Veillette transferred to St. Georges (R.I.) in the off-season.

“It was amazing. Biggest crowd we have had all year,” Sganga said. “It was so great to take in especially my first time playing in a game like this.”

The Tigers helped force 10 Wilton turnovers in the second half. The only thing they could not do was stop Wilton sharpshooter Thomas McKiernan, who burned Ridgefield for seven 3-pointers and a game-high 34 points.

But the Tigers held the rest of the Warriors to a collective 19 points.

“Tommy decided to put the team on his back and be that leader that he should be, and honestly, I expect him to be a great player going forward,” Geriak said. “We need more balanced scoring. Tommy tried to do everything he could.”

Player of the game

Nick Sganga, Ridgefield: Had some clutch offensive rebounds and putbacks in the second half and scored seven of his 13 points in the final quarter.


“Nobody knew who Nick Sganga was before this year. He played on the JV team. He didn’t play a minute of varsity. One of the things we take pride in is developing our players so they are ready to play varsity.”

Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan

joseph.morelli@hearstmediact.com; @nhrJoeMorelli

Ridgefield 69, Wilton 55

(at Wilton)
Ridgefield 11 21 17 20 - 69
Wilton      13 10 16 16 - 55

Ridgefield (69)
Andrew Griffin 0 1-2 1, Alister Walsh 2 4-6 8, Evan Kozdeba 2 1-1 6, Justin Keller 1 0-0 2, Jack Michalowski 3 2-2 9, Sean Sosa 4 0-1 8, Ian Swiatowicz 5 1-2 16, Jordan Katz 2 1-2 6, Nick Sganga 6 1-1 13. Totals 25 10-17 69.

Wilton (55)
Ryan Luchetta 2 0-0 4, Thomas McKiernan 11 5-5 34, Spencer Liston 0 0-0 0, Andy Campbell 2 0-0 5, Jarvie Maxwell 1 0-0 2, Liam McKiernan 1 0-0 3, Roy Henry 2 0-1 4, Luke Umphred 1 1-2 3. Totals 20 6-8 55. 
3-point goals: Ridgefield 8 (Swiatowicz 5, Michalowski, Katz, Kozdeba); Wilton 9 (T. McKiernan 7, Campbell, L. McKiernan).