Chase begins early

Kenzie Burns scored 13 points and Tiara Fountain 10, but coach Dave Danko’s Fairfield Warde girls basketball team never could catch up with St. Joseph of Trumbull in losing its season opener 57-45 on Friday.
“The second half was the way things are supposed to be, we had better movement, and if that is the way we play the rest of the season, I’ll live with it,” Danko said after the Mustangs played their best after intermission.
“The lights went on and you have to produce. After playing pretty good in the preseason, I think that us playing for the first time and St. Joseph having a game under its belt showed.”
Kaitlin McKenna, Fountain, Carley Strachan and Mary Kate McTague had to take on the Cadets’ talented frontcourt of Jenn Vasquez, Erin Johnson and Mairead Donahue.
McKenna scored four points in the first quarter that saw St. Joseph go into the break with a 13-4 lead.
It was 25-11 St. Joseph at the half, as Vasquez, who finished with 27 points, scored 13 of her markers before intermission.
“She (Vasquez) has such soft hands and is very tough to stop,” Danko said. “This was quite a night for that young lady.
“They run a great triangle with two on the block and that is hard to stop. That’s their bread and butter.”
The third quarter saw the best action, with St. Joseph rallying late to take the stanza by a 17-16 margin.
“In the third quarter, we had to match their energy,” St. Joseph coach Chris Lindwall said. “I think us having one game under our belt helped early in the game.
“In the FCIAC no lead is safe, and against one of the best coaches in the league being up 16 still had me nervous.”
Rachel Maltz snuck inside to score on a putback to open the second half for Warde, and Burns nailed a baseline jumper.
Burns next tallied from the corner, McKenna’s steal of an entry pass led to a made free throw, and Maltz scored on a strong drive.
The Warde deficit was down to 30-20 with 4:40 left in the third period, before Vasquez and Johnson alternated three hoops to reestablish a 16-point lead.
Burns drew a charge and Lejla Markovic made two free throws.
Fountain then stepped back and buried a 3-pointer, but Vasquez scored four of her eight points in the period’s final minute.
“We’d go on a nice little run and they’d go on a six-point run,” Danko said.
Warde came back again early in the fourth period, as the an effective sideline trap with Burns and Maltz led to four points from Michele Treglia.
But Johnson (eight points) had consecutive hoops and Donahue and Vasquez added baskets to turn back the Mustangs one last time.
Warde evened its record with a 51-25 victory over Bridgeport Central on Monday.
McKenna scored 16 points and Burns had 10 markers for the Mustangs, who went on an 18-3 run in the second quarter to take a 24-7 lead.

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