Wilton girls fall to Tigers, 49-47, in FCIAC girls hoop semis

Featuring a roster flush with juniors and sophomores, the Ridgefield High girls basketball team appeared, to most observers, to be a year removed from challenging for a conference title.

The Tigers, however, are running ahead of schedule.

Fifth-seed Ridgefield held off top-seed Wilton, 49-47, in the FCIAC semifinals Tuesday night at Fairfield Ludlowe, handing the Warriors (20-2) their first loss since the season opener.

Ridgefield (19-3) will now play third-seed Greenwich (19-3) for the championship on Thursday at 7 at Ludlowe. Greenwich upended second-seed Fairfield Warde, 47-44, in the first semifinal Tuesday.

The Tigers took a 45-35 lead into the fourth quarter against Wilton, and they still led 48-39 with 5:32 to play. But Wilton stormed back, closing to within 49-45 after Erica Meyer blocked a shot and Erin Cunningham was fouled and hit two free throws.

Wilton then stole the ball, and Meyer was fouled and sank both free throws to make it a two-point game, 49-47, with 1:25 left.

Each team then turned the ball over before Wilton gained possession and called a time-out with 5.4 seconds to play. The Warriors got the ball to Haley English, who came off a screen and fired a three-pointer that was off the mark as time expired. English appeared to be fouled on the play, but no call was made.

Ridgefield played a superb first quarter, bolting to a 23-13 advantage after the opening eight minutes. The Tigers maintained a healthy lead for most of the second quarter, until Wilton ended the period on 12-0 run to pull within 29-25 at halftime.

Ridgefield didn't crumble, though. The Tigers regrouped to go ahead by 10 points through three quarters, following Rebecca Lawrence's bucket off a inbound play under the Wilton basket with 1.1 seconds remaining.

Wilton put together one last run in the final quarter, but the Tigers were able to withstand that push and come away with the victory.

Carly Mercede, one of Ridgefield's few seniors, had a team-high 13 points for the Tigers. Jess Camarda and Meaghan O'Hara each added 12 points, while Lawrence had seven points and blocked several shots.

Cunningham led Wilton with 13 points. Meyer had 10 points, and Makenna Pearsall added eight points. Christina Holmgren and English contributed seven points apiece.