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FCIAC Boys Basketball: It’s Ridgefield vs. Wilton for the hoops crown

The FCIAC is about to have a first-time boys basketball champion.

The rival Ridgefield Tigers and Wilton Warriors both advanced to the league finals for the first time with semifinal victories on Tuesday night at Fairfield University.

No. 3 Ridgefield scored a dramatic 67-63 win over the No. 7 Danbury Hatters in double overtime of the first game, while the No. 5 Warriors knocked off No. 1 Trumbull, 72-66, in the nightcap.

Ridgefield (16-6) and Wilton (17-5) will play for the FCIAC crown at 7 p.m., Thursday, at Warde, and the game will be carried live by the HAN Network, with a pregame show starting at 6:50 p.m.

The Tigers might not have been roaring into the title game if not for a pair of dramatic moments by Zach Esemplare. The senior guard nailed a three-point basket from three feet beyond the arc to tie the score, 48-48, at the buzzer and send the game into overtime.

In the first OT, the Tigers were trailing by two points when Esemplare drove to the hoop and floated one in to again tie the game and force a second OT.

Given another chance to win it, Ridgefield took control and outscored the Hatters 10-6 in the second OT to get the win.

“This is amazing,” Esemplare told Scott Ericson of the Stamford Advocate. “I watched my brother play in FCIACs when I was in fifth grade and it has always been on my mind that we want to get there. The fact we have never been there before makes it even better.”

In the second game, the Warriors drained 10 three-pointers and pulled away from the Eagles in the second half to get the victory.

Wilton’s Jack Williams is all smiles after the Warriors defeated Trumbull in the FCIAC semifinals Tuesday at Warde High School. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network phtoo

Drew Connolly, who went 9-for-10 from the free throw line, led Wilton with 19 points, and Jack Williams scored 18, including 12 on four three-pointers.

For Wilton, which started the season 10-0 before struggling at 5-5 in the second half of the schedule, the trip to the final has been a long time coming.

“I feel this team was ready to be in the championship game and I’m so excited for the kids,” said Wilton head coach Joel Geriak told John Misciosia of the Wilton Bulletin. “This has been five years in the making and we finally made it. The kids worked hard to get here, had to overcome injuries to key players, and some tough losses in the second half of the season. One of the key reasons we made it this year is that we have more depth on the team and these guys have played alongside each other for a long time.”

Ridgefield 67, Danbury 63 (2 OT) – Box Score

Wilton 72, Trumbull 66 – Box Score 

Story Links

• Ridgefield Press: With double OT win, Ridgefield heads to first FCIAC final

• Stamford Advocate: Ridgefield tops rival Danbury in double OT in FCIAC semis

• Wilton Bulletin: Warriors advance to FCIAC finals for first time

• Trumbull Times: Wilton knocks off Trumbull Eagles

• Stamford Advocate: Wilton topples top seed Trumbull in FCIAC semis

The Ridgefield Tigers celebrate after defeating the Danbury Hatters in double overtime in Tuesday night’s FCIAC semifinals at Warde High School. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

 

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