Staples’ Ella Harrington tries to maneuver between a pair of Mustang defenders during Tuesday night’s game. / Photos by Andy Hutchison

By Andy Hutchison

WESTPORT — Down six points at the half and 10 early in the third quarter, the Staples High girls basketball team battled all the way back to take the lead before falling 46-39 to visiting Fairfield Warde on Tuesday night.

The Wreckers trailed 21-15 entering the third quarter and did not score a second-half point until about the mid-point of the third. Then the Wreckers found their shooting touch.

Down 25-15, the Wreckers got baskets by Sarah VonDohlen and Reese Rein to spark a 10-2 run. The Mustangs got the final two points of the quarter on a pair of free throws, and led 29-25 going to the fourth.

Emma Asiel dribbles the ball as Warde defends during Staples’ 46-36 setback to Warde.

Staples got back to within a basket when Mary Belzer cashed in on a turnover just seconds into the final stanza.

Down four, Staples scored the next five with VonDohlen hitting a 3-pointer from straight on and Freya Harvey making two foul shots for a 32-31 Wrecker lead less than two minutes into the fourth.

Warde reclaimed the lead before Harvey nailed a 3-pointer, making it 35-33 Staples with 5:11 left. That marked the last time Staples led in this contest.

Fouls and turnovers piled up on the Wreckers and the Mustangs capitalized to take the lead for good at the free throw line. The Mustangs made 10 free throws in the final period.

VonDohlen finished with 16 points, 13 of which came after the intermission. Harvey had seven, Belzer, Sofia Martin and Ella Harrington all scored four, and Rein added two points.

The loss hurts Staples’ chances of qualifying for the FCIAC Tournament, but the Wreckers remained mathematically in the hunt with three regular-season contests remaining.

Staples was coming off a 61-39 win over Bridgeport Central on Feb. 1. VonDohlen dropped in 30 points, highlighted by six 3-pointers. Harvey scored nine in that contest.

Staples is home to take on Fairfield Ludlowe at 7 p.m. Friday as the Wreckers look to keep their conference playoff hopes alive and bolster their state tournament positioning. (Game schedules are subject to change; click for the latest CIAC updates.)

Andy Hutchison has been covering school sports — including Staples athletics — as well as news and feature stories in Fairfield County, since the 1990s.