DARIEN -- Matt Staubi and the Darien boys basketball team couldn't have picked a much better way to end 2013.
The senior point guard scored 23 points for the second straight game as the Blue Wave hammered rival New Canaan 61-47 Saturday afternoon for their second victory in a span of less than 24 hours.
Normally, Darien and New Canaan compete in the La Vista tournament at the end of the year, but they couldn't find a fourth team to fill out the bracket.
Instead, they combined with Staples to play a three-team round robin of non-league contests. Darien defeated the Wreckers 65-59 on Friday while New Canaan visits Staples on Monday before all threeteams face each other again in league play later in the season.
With a senior-laden roster, the Blue Wave have set their sights on making the state tournament after going just 4-16 last season -- and the talent level seems a lot higher than it has been in recent years.
"We want to prove ourselves," said Staubi, who also handed out five assists. "We're confident in our ability to win games, hopefully to make the states and even go .500. We know we have the talent and ability to do that. We just have to go out and do it."
Remarkably, New Canaan didn't make a single free throw in the entire game, going just 0-of-2 from the line, as Darien's zone kept the Rams to the perimeter.
Kyle Marian would love to bottle the first period of Saturday's game because it might have been the Blue Wave's best eight-minute stretch in his three-plus seasons as coach.
Darien ran its fast break off New Canaan misses, made its first seven shots and finished 10-of-13 from the field in the quarter in racing to a 22-9 lead.
"I was a little bit worried how we would fare in the second half (because of the back-to-back games), but from a first-half standpoint, I could tell the moment we stepped out for our pregame that these guys were ready to go," Marian said. "We kind of let the dog off the leash and let them go.
"It was amazing. When I looked up at the end of the quarter I saw 22 (points). It puts the pressure on the other team right away," Marian said. "They got to start battling back, and that's what we emphasized -- make them play from behind the whole time."
The Blue Wave (2-2) jumped on the Rams (1-2), who hadn't played since a 65-60 victory over Wilton on Dec. 20.
Except for a 3-pointer by Staubi, all of Darien's field goals in the first quarter were either dunks or layups.
"Right from the tap, we got a bucket in the first three seconds," said Staubi, whose team never trailed after building a 6-0 lead. "That's when we knew we wanted to take off and go." Read Full Article
George Phillips added 17 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Blue Wave while 6-foot-11 center Chima Azounwu was dominant in the middle with 10 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks while impacting many other shots. Ames Murray grabbed eight rebounds to help the Blue Wave on the boards.
"We were able to get out on our break, get the ball into people's hands, and they were finishing," Marian said. "It was a very good team effort today."
Andrew Penchuck scored 20 points and Claude Chardonnet chipped in with 12 to pace the Rams. Erik Jager added nine for New Canaan, all on 3-pointers.
Darien (22-of-47, 47 percent for the game) cooled off in the second quarter but still extended the lead,opening its biggest advantage at 34-13 at Staubi's two free throws with 1:20 left in the half.
The Rams, who shot 31 percent (20-of-65), gave themselves a fighting chance by hitting seven 3-pointers and pulled within 51-38 on Chardonnett's 3-pointer with 6:24 remaining, but they never got thedeficit into single digits.
Darien now has nine days off before playing at Warde on Jan. 7.
NEW CANAAN (1-2)
Tyler Sweeney 1 0-0 3 Max Urbahn 0 0-0 0 Claude Chardonnet 5 0-0 12 Kyle Smith 0 0-0 0 Paul Hagopian
1 0-0 3 Andrew Penchuck 10 0-2 20 Erik Jager 3 0-0 9 20 0-2 47
Chima Azuonwu 4 2-4 10 Ames Murray 1 0-0 2 Jackson Ryan 0 0-0 0 Bobby Fitzpatrick 1 0-0 2 Alex Preston
2 0-0 4 Rock Stewart 0 0-0 0 Collin Sullivan 0 0-0 0 Matt Staubi 6 9-10 23 Hudson Hamill 1 0-0 3 George
Phillips 7 2-4 17 22 13-18 61
NEW CANAAN 9-7-15-16-47
3-pointers: NC-Jager 3, Chardonnet 2, Sweeney 1, Hagopian 1; D-Staubi 2, Hamill 1, Phillips 1.