Ludlowe girls take on summer hoop challenge

The Fairfield Ludlowe girls basketball team competed in the Stratford Girls Summer League Basketball League. Team members pictured (front row l-r) are: Heather Smith, Erin O’Leary, Bridget O’Leary, Meredith Reynolds and Maddie O’Connell; (second row) coach Pauline Blatt, Charlotte Blatt, Trish Auray and Anna Lee Riccio. (Photo by Bill Bloxsom)

The Fairfield Ludlowe girls basketball team competed in the Stratford Girls Summer League Basketball League. Team members pictured (front row l-r) are: Heather Smith, Erin O’Leary, Bridget O’Leary, Meredith Reynolds and Maddie O’Connell; (second row) coach Pauline Blatt, Charlotte Blatt, Trish Auray and Anna Lee Riccio.
(Photo by Bill Bloxsom)

Fairfield Ludlowe took the court to face Stratford High in Stratford Girls Summer Basketball League week nine action in the Birdseye gym on Aug. 14.
In a match up of teams with conflicting styles, Stratford players found their way to the basket enough times to win a 45-40 decision.
“This is a young squad and playing in a summer league is a good way to get ready for the high school season,” said Ludlowe coach Pauline Blatt.
“I thought we did pretty well. Stratford was strong off the dribble, but our defense adjusted, we rebounded well, and moved the ball on offense.”
Ludlowe had three seniors-to-be playing in this game, Charlotte Blatt, Trish Auray and Anna Lee Riccio.
Maddie O’Connell and Heather Smith are rising sophomores, while first-year players taking the court were Meredith Reynolds, Bridget O’Leary and Erin O’Leary.
Ludlowe preferred to run exact offensive sets to free up its shooters, while Stratford players worked around quick screens and then attacked the basket.
The game featured seven lead changes, the last coming with eight minutes remaining in the second half.
Ludlowe led 36-33 after O’Connell took a pass from Erin O’Leary and scored from in close.
Stratford’s Genesis Torres then came up with a steal and made a strong move to split two defenders to draw Stratford within a point.
Stephanie Winston came up with the next takeaway and Destani Brantley scored on a putback, as Stratford pulled away for a 45-38 lead.
Rickeya Atkinson (18 points), Brantley (13 points) and Torres (12 points) had hoops during this stretch.
Charlotte Blatt, who led all scorers with 19 points, and Riccio, who played a stellar overall game, answered every Stratford basket in the opening stages of the game, which is made up of two 20-minute halves.
Ludlowe showed good patience and got the ball inside to Charlotte Blatt, Auray, Smith and O’Connell.
The young guards did a good job protecting the ball and swinging it around Stratford’s aggressive perimeter defense.
With Riccio scoring three baskets, Ludlowe kept pace before Stratford took a 15-12 lead midway through the opening half.
After a Torres steal, Destani Brantley gave it back to her on a pass from the wing, and Torres’ drop step bucket pushed the score to 18-14.
Bridget O’Leary’s 3-pointer closed the gap for Ludlowe and Charlotte Blatt tallied on the next two trips for a 21-20 advantage.
Charlotte Blatt crossed the lane and pulled up for an eight-footer, but Atkinson closed the half with a pair of baskets and Stratford took a 24-23 lead into the break.
Smith scored two hoops and assisted on one by Charlotte Blatt to begin the second half.
Stratford answered each basket with one of its own, as Brantley scored four points and Torres two.
Strong defense dominated the middle part of the half, with Auray, Riccio, Reynolds and O’Connell doing the board work for Ludlowe.
Pauline Blatt, a Ludlowe star who be attending the University of Notre Dame, said, “The girls have been working hard and the incoming freshman have been stepping up and adjusting to what it will be like to play basketball in high school.”

In week 10, all eight teams will take the court for the final slate of games on Thursday, Aug. 21.
St. Joseph plays Notre Dame of Fairfield at 5, Bunnell meets Stratford at 6, Shelton takes on Oxford at 7 and Central vs Ludlowe caps the season at 8.

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