Girls Basketball

Ludlowe Finds Strength In Numbers, Topples St. Joseph

Ludlowe’s Kaleigh Sommers goes in for a layup as Kirsten Rodriguez defends for St. Joseph. (Mark Conrad)

TRUMBULL — Through the first half of its season, the Fairfield Ludlowe girls basketball team has been the epitome of a balanced scoring squad, a key characteristic that surfaced again today against host St. Joseph.

The Falcons didn’t need to have a double-digit scorer to flourish offensively. Instead, two players scored nine points, three tallied seven and eight contributed points overall, enabling the Falcons to conclude the week on a winning note.

Senior guard Laura Herron and sophomore center Madison Roman scored nine points apiece for Ludlowe, which built a 16-point halftime lead on its way to cruising to a convincing 47-24 victory over St. Joseph.

Anna Paulmann, a senior guard, Kaleigh Sommers, a sophomore forward, and sophomore center Caitlin Finnegan added seven points apiece for the Falcons (5-2).

“What makes our team so successful this year is we have so many players who are capable of contributing when they are on the floor,” Ludlowe coach Sara Kinsley said. “When substitutes go in, we continue to execute our team principles and philosophies and we are really focused on not letting our energy drop.”

The Falcons’ Caitlin Finnegan goes up for a shot in the paint. (Mark Conrad)

Setting the tone early with efficient shooting from the perimeter and stellar defensive play, the Falcons soared to a 16-5 lead heading into the second quarter.

“It was really all about coming out with such high intensity and really good energy,” said Ludlowe senior guard Emma Torello, who scored five points and effectively helped run the squad’s offensive sets. “We were all really excited to play this game. All week we were preparing very hard for it.”

St. Joseph (5-2) stared at a daunting 27-11 deficit entering halftime. The Cadets struggled offensively throughout, making only eight shots from the floor for the game.

“You are not going to win when you’re 8-for-49, it’s like there was a lid on the basket, it was the strangest thing,” St. Joseph coach Chris Lindwall said. “We could not finish around the basket, we got the shots that we wanted to get. I thought our effort was fantastic, we just couldn’t get the ball to fall in the basket.”

Besides executing well offensively, the Falcons’ defensive play was stellar, as they played man-to-man, mixed in with a zone and exhibited a 1-3-1 full court press at times.

The Cadets’ Kayleigh Carson is first to a loose ball. (Mark Conrad)

“One of our strengths as a team is defensive intensity, forcing the other teams to make turnovers,” Torello said. “It starts with steals and that transfers to our offense.”

The Cadets, who received seven points each from junior forwards Dennaye Hinds and Izzy Casucci, played without the services of starting guard Kate Rudini. A junior, Rudini is sidelined with injuries to both ankles, Lindwall noted. She tweaked her right ankle in the team’s matchup against Brien McMahon and sprained her left ankle against Westhill. 

“We’re taking it day-by-day,” Lindwall said of Rudini. “I thought the kids stepped up their energy level, but against a team as good as Ludlowe is, and as well-coached as they are, you have to capitalize on your opportunities.”

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Torello made a 3-pointer from the left side, Roman scored off a strong move in the post and Herron made a turnaround jumper, giving the Falcons a 10-1 lead 3:25 into the first quarter.

After junior Kayleigh Carson drove the lane and scored, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 10-5, the visitors scored six straight points, courtesy of baskets from Finnegan, Herron and Roman, making it 16-5.

A 3-pointer by Herron from the top of the key and a layup off a steal from Paulmann stretched the Falcons’ advantage to 21-7 early in the second quarter. 

The Falcons’ Madison Roman goes up for a shot between St. Joseph’s Izzy Casucci and Erika Stephens. (Mark Conrad)

Senior Sophie Lemley also swished a 3-pointer in the second quarter for the Falcons, who kept the momentum throughout.

“Coming into the second half, we talked about how we were really happy with the energy we came out with,” said Paulmann. “One of the things we focused on was never settling.”

The Falcons left the game especially pleased with their defensive effort.

“One stop, one steal is something that we focus on, so everyone did a good job of staying in it mentally and keeping up their tempo,” Paulmann said.

Roman and Finnegan’s effectiveness inside helped Ludlowe’s offense remain in rhythm.

“Madison and Caitlin did a good job of pulling the defense into the paint, and when you have strong post players, the other team has to be aware of that and that’s what helped keep our offense spread to get some open outside shots as well tonight,” Kinsley said.

Added Ludlowe guard Juliet Bucher: “Offensively, we were very intense in the first half, pushing the ball up on the fastbreak. But once we got into the second half with a nice lead, we focused on passing the ball around, being composed on offense, attacking and getting points.”