New Canaan Basketball Falls to Ludlowe, 41-35


In what has been somewhat of an up-and-down season for the New Canaan High School boys basketball team, Friday night’s 41-35 loss to Fairfield Ludlowe might have established a new low for the Rams.

Poor shot selection and execution, subpar rebounding and an uptick in turnovers sank New Canaan (3-10, 3-6 FCIAC), which lost its third consecutive contest. The Rams were unable to climb out of a hole they dug for themselves in the third quarter which saw Ludlowe (4-8, 3-5 FCIAC) outscore New Canaan 16-4, turning a two-point halftime lead into a 35-21 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

“I don’t know what went wrong tonight,” Rams head coach Danny Melzer told “I’ve never seen us not reflect a team that wants to do whatever it takes to win. Tonight we reflected a team that didn’t and I can’t put my finger on why.”

It wasn’t for a lack of opportunities. New Canaan had several steals and transition chances throughout the game, but was consistently unable to convert them into baskets. Junior Luke Crawford scored 11 points to lead the Rams, including seven in the first half. Star senior Tyler Sweeney had a rare off-night, netting just seven points—perhaps a microcosm of a Rams team that shot 13 for 53 (24.5%) from the field and 2 for 21 (9.52%) from three-point range.

“That’s tough to overcome,” Melzer said. “That being said—we still could have. If we had the proper energy all game long and not just the last three minutes, we still could have won the game.”

The Falcons raced out to an early advantage as baskets by Frank Lumaj and Ty Stapleton gave Ludlowe a 5-0 lead. The Rams went on an 8-4 run as three-pointers from Crawford and senior Charlie Grow and a basket from sophomore Matt Brand cut the Falcons lead to 9-8.

Ludlowe scored the last four points of the first quarter to take a 13-8 lead heading into the second.

New Canaan drew closer in the second quarter, outscoring the Falcons 9-6 to head into halftime trailing 19-17. The highlight of the quarter—and perhaps the game—was a Crawford steal and score with just 16 seconds left in the half to seemingly swing the game’s momentum New Canaan’s way heading into the half.

Then came the third quarter.

The Falcons reeled off a 10-0 run coming out of halftime to extend to a 29-17 lead. The Rams were held scoreless for nearly the first four minutes of the third until senior Austin Bell ended the drought with a jumper to make it 29-19. Ludlowe answered back with consecutive baskets to take a 33-19 lead—its biggest of the game—when Crawford hit the only other New Canaan basket of the third to make it 35-21.

New Canaan showed signs of life in the fourth quarter, as an increased intensity on defense—which included double team traps and a full-court press—ignited a dormant offense. The Rams pulled to within three possessions of the Falcons three times in the final stanza, outscoring Ludlowe 14-6. But for New Canaan, it was too little, too late— the closest they got turned out to be the final score.

With the loss, New Canaan now enters desperation mode in its quest to make the state playoffs—something they have not done since the 2008-09 season. The Rams now need to win five of their remaining seven games to qualify for the postseason.

“I hope the team that played those last three minutes is the team that we’re going to be going forward,” Melzer said. “That team is pretty good. The team that showed up the first 29 minutes is not.”

New Canaan8941435
Top scorers:

NC - Luke Crawford, 11; Tyler Sweeney, 7; Nick Crovatto, 4; Austin Bell, 4
Ludlowe - Sean Close, 11; Frank Lumaj, 10; Aidan Kudzy, 6; Paul Cipollaro 5


NC - Grow, Crawford
Ludlowe - Close, Stapleton, Cipollaro

Fouled out: Bell (NC)

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