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Ludlowe Stuns Warde in Fairfield Boys Showdown

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – With both Fairfield high schools having more basketball losses than wins in January, one had to get a break Tuesday. And it came with just 27 seconds remaining when Ludlowe's Justin Berardino fired a pass to Tyler Bulkley, who sank the go-ahead layup to give the Falcons the lead for good over Fairfield rival Warde .

Ludlowe held off three Warde attempts to pull ahead in the final seconds, picking up a desperately needed 44-43 victory. The win was just the third of the season for Ludlowe, which was coming off a 40-point loss to Stamford on its home court.

“It wasn’t really a play that we designed. Justin just ran off a screen and I was wide open,” Bulkley said. “I don’t think the varsity team has beaten Warde since I’ve been here. I didn’t want to go out like that.”

The matchup between the cross-town rivals became red-hot in the fourth quarter after moving at a glacial pace for the first three. With a nearly sold-out Fairfield Warde gym making plenty of noise, nerves clearly affected both teams. Ludlowe opened the game on an 8-0 run, but poor shooting from the field by both teams led to a paltry 19-14 halftime lead for Warde.

The shots finally started to fall late in the third quarter as the Falcons pulled within three of Warde. Ludlowe retook the lead for the first time since the first quarter on a Mark Cerulli layup two minutes into the fourth, capping a 9-0 run. Justin Berardino picked the perfect time to hit Ludlowe’s only three-pointer of the night to knot the game at 41-41.

The Mustangs had plenty of chances to sink a last-second bucket, with seemingly every player getting a hand on the ball in the game's wild final moments. Michael Wright, Matt McTague and Sal Siciliano all took shots, but only found iron.

“It was very hard to keep these guys calm. I was very afraid we would not get to play how we want to play, which is with patience,” Ludlowe head coach Brian Silvestro said. “We really needed this. The season was in jeopardy.”

Ludlowe’s Cerulli tied for a game-high 13 points with Warde’s Wright. Bulkley netted 10 of his 12 points in the second half. Ludlowe’s Berardino finished with 11 points. Warde’s McTague netted nine.

Ludlowe (3-8) hosts Bassick on Friday at 7 p.m. Warde (5-6) travels to Staples in Westport on Friday for a 7 p.m. game.

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