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Fairfield Warde Girls Fall Short of Playoffs

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Entering the final week of the season, everything seemed to be going Fairfield Warde High’s way in the race for a spot in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference girls basketball tournament.

But the Mustangs fell short, losing to Stamford High, 49-39, on their home court Wednesday night. Stamford and Warde entered the final game with identical league records, making the contest a play-in game for the tournament.

Warde finishes the regular season at 12-8 overall and 10-8 in the league. It will now wait to compete in the state tournament.

“It’s like the end of a sad love story,’’ coach Dave Danko said. “I was in love with these guys. They were doing everything I asked. They wanted to be in the playoffs. We’re disappointed. We just couldn’t finish the deal.”

Stamford handed Warde its first loss at home this season, snapping a 10-game home winning streak. The Black Knights jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first 2:20 on three three-pointers by Lauren Schapiro and never trailed.

Warde trailed 18-9 after the first quarter and 25-21 at halftime. Tiara Fountain’s three-pointer with 1:49 left in the third quarter got the Mustangs within 31-29. That was as close as they came, as Kelsey Cognetta’s driving layup with one second left in the third quarter put Stamford ahead, 33-29. Cognetta, who finished with 20 points, scored five points in the first 44 seconds of the fourth period, and Warde never seriously challenged again.

“We fought hard to be in this position,’’ Danko said. “We just ran into a tough team. They deserved to win. They outplayed us, and the ball just didn’t seem to bounce our way.”

Brielle Lanese scored 15 points for Warde, while Tiara Fountain had nine and Jamera Fountain had seven. It was a tough loss for Warde seniors Lanese, Kate Kerrigan, Jamera Fountain, Carly Mappa and Jerelyn Luther, who have been lineup regulars since they were sophomores.

“It’s a lesson in life,’’ Danko said. “Are we going to respond or are we going to react. Are we going to say, 'Let’s go on to our spring sports; let’s go on vacation.' I don’t think these girls will. I think they have too much heart and too much desire.”

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