New Canaan vs. Darien
New Canaan sophomore Nick Crovatto drained a pair of clutch free throws with less than a minute left to break a 43-43 tie and help lift the Rams to a 46-43 win over the Blue Wave Monday night at Darien High School.
The Rams were led by junior Tyler Sweeney who scored 21 points, 17 of which came in an exhilarating second half that saw multiple lead changes and swings of momentum.
“I’m really proud because things weren’t going our way,” New Canaan head coach Mike Evans said. “We created our own momentum and got it done.”
Darien started the game strong, building an 11-9 lead in the first quarter. Junior two-guard Jackson Ryan hit two three-pointers for six of his team-high 15 points on the night to help the Wave to their early advantage.
New Canaan kept the game within reach in the second quarter with strong play from the tandem of sophomore Jackson Selvala (six points) and senior Sam Larson (two points), who were faced with the unenviable task of matching up against Darien’s star center, the 6’9” Alex Preston. The duo held Preston to eight points on the night, a credit to New Canaan’s defense which—for perhaps the first time all season—was able to sustain its intensity for the entire game.
The Rams came out of halftime making significant adjustments on offense. Sweeney began attacking the hoop, scoring seven points—including a huge “and-one” three-point play—despite the considerable presence of Preston, who altered or blocked multiple New Canaan shots all night. After swapping leads throughout the third, the Rams had a 30-28 heading into the final quarter.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the fourth, with Sweeney and Darien junior Zak Swetye trading three pointers on consecutive possessions. Preston tied the game twice by converting five of six free throws down the stretch, while New Canaan countered at the stripe with James Crovatto (four points) and Sweeney sinking key foul shots of their own. All of this set up Nick Crovatto (10 points) with his last-minute heroics, just minutes after missing a pair of free throws in a similar, pressure-filled situation.
“There’s probably no more mentally tough kid than Nick, except maybe his brother,” Evans said. “And I don’t want to get involved in that feud.”
After Crovatto’s free throws gave New Canaan a 45-43 lead, Darien (2-4, 0-3 FCIAC) failed to score on their offensive possession, missing on two chances and ultimately losing the ball out of bounds to the Rams. On the ensuing inbounds, the Wave fouled Sweeney with 6.1 seconds left. The junior made one of two foul shots to make it 46-43 and after a desperation Darien three-pointer missed its mark, New Canaan had escaped with a nail-biting win.
“I think we proved something to ourselves,” Evans said, as New Canaan improved to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the FCIAC. “When you’re 1-5 in New Canaan, your season is over mentally. And they came in tonight and were not okay with that, and I’ve never seen that before.”
Meanwhile, the New Canaan girls basketball team looked to avenge last month’s 46-31 loss to the Blue Wave, just as they had against McMahon last Friday.
Darien had other ideas, as the Wave overcame a 15-14 halftime deficit to beat the Rams 28-23 at New Canaan High School.
Kate Fiore and Katie Ramsay led the way for Darien, scoring six points apiece. Kaeliegh Morill scored all five of her points in a decisive third quarter, as the Wave took a 19-17 lead into the fourth quarter. It was a lead they would not relinquish.
Campbell Armstrong helped the Rams to an early lead, scoring 10 of her 11 points on the night in the first half. Kylie Murphy added 7 points, including five in the second half to keep New Canaan within striking distance.
Other Rams scorers were Leigh Charlton and Elena Aliapoulios with two points apiece and Olivia Hunsinger with one point. Darien scorers included Christine Fiore with four points, Emily DeNunzio and Emily Coyle with three and Casey Ryan with one.
Darien improved to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in the FCIAC. New Canaan dropped to 1-7 and 1-5 in the conference.