Fairfield Warde head coach Dave Danko has been known to be a little intense on the bench, especially when things aren't going right for his girls basketball team.
But as Danbury went on a 16-0 run to open the third quarter, on its way to a 57-33 win over the Mustangs on Wednesday, Danko was rather quiet and nurturing.
But there was a reason for Danko's quietness.
"I kind of yelled at them at the half," Danko said, showing some remorse in his voice. "All my kids are told to square up and look at the basket, they were not showing any confidence (in the first half) in their ability to score."
Indeed, the Mustangs hesitated and passed the ball in the first half, even when they had open shots. And that reluctance to shoot became amplified midway through the second quarter when Danbury center Casey Smith blocked a three-point attempt by Warde guard Kate Kerrigan.
But Danko felt Danbury's 22-12 halftime lead should have been less, based on Warde's defensive performance. The Mustangs even got Smith, Danbury's go-to player, to sit in the first quarter because they drew her into a pair of fouls.
"We had a good game plan for Smith," Danko said. "I'm just trying to teach them key possessions and clock management. We shouldn't have been down 10 because we were playing good defense."
But it's not like Danbury, who Danko believes will be in the FCIAC championship game this season, didn't come in with any jitters either.
"We're always going to be jittery when we come to Warde because we've got such a great rivalry," DiNardo said. "The kids came in too tight and I think they finally settled down and things clicked for us."
But Gartner responded well on the court with 12 points, and her twin sister, Rebecca, came off the bench to score four.
While Warde tensed up, Danbury relaxed at halftime and went on that epic 7:10 run to open up a 38-12 lead.
Warde guard Taylor Bargmann ended the Danbury run when she got a steal and layup with 10 seconds left in the quarter.
The Mustangs' offense was led by two players who came off the bench. Junior guard Jamera Fountain scored 13 points, including three
3-pointers. Her sister, freshman guard Tierra Fountain, scored eight points.
Jamera Fountain was on the team last season and saw some playing time, but her season was cut short due to injuries she suffered when she was hit by a car.
"(The Fountain sisters) have it in them, they need to believe what I'm
selling them; that you can reap the rewards by
playing hard, playing solid defense and using their God-given talent," Danko said. "Both have the talent, but they've just got to understand the game of basketball. They're just
scratching the surface."
Smith led Danbury with 18 points, and Rabin Rawji added 13.