By Ryan Lacey
Published 6:54 pm, Saturday, February 11, 2017
WESTPORT — When the Staples boys basketball team can find production from its supporting cast, the sky is the limit.
Ridgefield found that out firsthand in a crucial matchup Saturday afternoon.
In delivering one of its most complete efforts of the season, Staples got a combined 32 points from Max Sussman (14), Matt Fair (10) and Brendan Massoud (eight) in a 69-55 win over the Tigers. Staples (8-9) sealed its spot in the Class LL tournament and kept alive an outside hope of sneaking into the FCIAC playoffs with three regular-season games remaining.
“This is one of the best team performances we’ve had all season,” said Wreckers senior Justin Seideman, who led all scorers with 22 points. “I think when all of us come together and play like that, there’s not a lot of teams that we can’t compete with. It was a really hard-fought game; Ridgefield is a great team and well-coached.”
Known as a program that produces fine shooters, Staples had struggled to explode from beyond the arc in 2016-17 as its main source of offense came from drives into the lane from Seideman and Sean Pritchett (11 points). That changed in one afternoon as Staples hit 11 3s.
The Tigers (10-6) entered the game on the back of four consecutive wins, including a 69-59 win over Wilton on Feb. 2. But defensive breakdowns led to a field day for the Wreckers; the 69 points the Tigers allowed were the most they have all season.
“We didn’t get enough stops,” Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan said. “We’ve a very good defensive team and we were not very good this afternoon. And you have to give Staples credit for that; they run very good stuff and they executed all of it.”
A layup by Brenden McNamara cut Ridgefield’s deficit to 49-48 to start the fourth quarter before Staples turned on the jets. Sussman buried a 3-pointer and Massoud scored five straight points to provide a comfortable lead the Wreckers wouldn’t yield.
“It was a total team effort from start to finish on both ends of the floor,” Wreckers coach Colin Devine said. “Obviously we made some open shots, but we defended and rebounded when we needed to; I thought Matt Fair as a senior leader stepped up.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 13-4 lead inside four minutes as they hit their first three 3-point attempts. Staples chipped away before four 3-pointers in a two-minute span gave it a narrow lead.
“Early on we weren’t closing out as well as we can on their shooters,” Seideman said. “We knew we had to get our hands on them; we switched out of our 3-2 zone and went to man, and I think our defense translated to our offense.”
With a significant size advantage on the front line, Ridgefield attempted to work its inside-out game through center Nick Laudati (11 points). At times the Tigers got to the rim without much resistance, but the Wreckers’ defense turned it up late. David Basich and Seideman got crucial steals late, and a block by Pritchett was the exclamation point.
“Staples completely outplayed us from the tip to the end,” McClellan said. “They were more hungry. Ridgefield could never get their feet on the ground; we didn’t execute the things we wanted to execute.”
STAPLES 69, RIDGEFIELD 55
STAPLES (8-9, 6-7 FCIAC)
Justin Seideman 8 2-2 22 Sean Pritchett 2 6-7 11 Max Sussman 4 2-2 14 Ben Pearl 0 0-0 0 Matt Fair 4 0-1 10 Brendan Massoud 3 2-4 8 David Basich 1 2-2 4. Totals 22 14-18 67.
RIDGEFIELD (10-6, 7-5 FCIAC)
Joseph Newborn 1 2-3 5; Chris Longo 4 0-0 10; Nick Laudati 5 1-3 11; Luke McGarrity 4 0-0 11; Zach Esemplare 7 0-0 14; Brenden McNamara 2 4-4 8. Totals: 22 7-10 57.
RIDGEFIELD 18 13 15 9—55
STAPLES 13 19 17 20—69
3-pointers: R—Longo 2, McGarrity 3; S—Seideman 4, Pritchett, Sussman 4, Fair 2.