Signature win for St. Joe's in girls basketball playoffs

Erin Parchinski shoots the ball in St. Joseph's round of 16 victory over Greenwich.

Erin Parchinski shoots the ball in St. Joseph's round of 16 victory over Greenwich.

St. Joseph Athletics / Contributed photo

“You have a certain amount of signature wins in your program and this is one of those,” St. Joseph girls’ basketball coach Chris Lindwall said after his No. 5 seeded Cadets defeated No. 4 seed Ludlowe 37-32 in the FCIAC quarterfinals in Fairfield on Saturday. “The kids really came out and focused on the defensive side of the ball. That was the difference. I’m extremely proud.”

St. Joseph (11-3) had trouble scoring points against Ludlowe (11-3).

“We didn’t play well on offense. We didn’t shoot well. Our defense and rebounding kept us in the game. We had three kids with double digits in rebounds,” said Lindwall, whose team advanced to play unbeaten No. 1 seed Ridgefield (14-0) in the semifinals.

Izzy Casucci had 12 rebounds, Erika Stephens 11, Dennaye Hines 10 and Kirsten Rodriguez grabbed nine as St. Joseph dominated the backboards.

“We got their kids in foul trouble early in the game. Madison Roman is a very good player, a sophomore lefty, and then Caitlin Finnegan got in foul trouble as well,” Lindwall said. “It was a good quality day for my kids. They beat us by 23 (47-24) in the regular season. We didn’t have Kate Rudini (5-9 junior guard) to play in that game (bad ankle sprain). Yesterday, Kate picked up two fouls early and only played three minutes in the first half. She imposed her defensive will on their guards in the second half.”

Kayleigh Carson scored 10 points, Casucci had four blocks, Stephens three assists and four steals, Hinds three steals and two blocks and Rodriguez two blocks.

Lindwall said: “Nicole Zito (5-6 senior guard) came off the bench and did an exceptional defensive job. When you get that from a captain as a role player, well, that is what you need. Izzy Casucci (6-0 junior forward) played above anything I could have expected. She used her length and did a lot of good things.”

St. Joseph defeated No. 12 seed Greenwich 53-31 in the round of 16. Rodriguez had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Rudini had five assists and four steals. Hinds had 15 rebounds and six steals. Casucci had eight rebounds and three blocks.

“This team’s energy level and the leadership we have received all season has been great,” Lindwall said. “Grace Cottle (5-9 senior forward) is a captain who gives us positive play every game. Same thing with Erin Parchinski (5-8 senior forward). She is another captain and as an undersized post player is a rebounding machine. Emily Haverl (5-6 senior guard) is another captain. She is an offensive minded player who has done everything we’ve asked from starting to coming off the bench.”

Hinds, Rodriguez and Erika Stephens supply the rebounding, which is a St. Joe’s mainstay.

Rebounding the ball has been a necessary mainstay.

“Dennaye Hinds (5-11 junior forward) is special. She has done incredible job coming back from an ACL injury,” Lindwall said. “We are starting to see the last few weeks the real Dennaye. She is playing more minutes now that she is comfortable with the leg and is dominating the board.

“Kirsten Rodriguez (5-10 junior center) has improved throughout the year,” Lindwall said. “She has owned the paint. The last two weeks have probably been the best two weeks that a player has had for us.

“Erika Stephens (5-9 junior guard) is a kid who expects excellence, she demands that from herself,” Lindwall noted. “The Ludlowe and Staples games were two of her best games that she’s had and a big reason we won both those games. Against Ludlowe in the last minute and a half she got two rebounds that I swear she took off the rim. She wasn’t going to let anyone else get those rebounds. A good shooter, she is very athletic and will be a tough kid to defend next season. She has played multiple positions on the court for us.”

Lindwall called Carson his most improved player.

“Kayleigh Carson (5-4 junior guard) has come into her own from a confidence level. She is nailing the 3. She benefits from the other players on the floor,” Lindwall said. “You have to stop our post player and then you forget about this kid wearing No. 10 and she nails a 3 or she goes 3-for-4 from the foul line down the stretch like she did against Ludlowe. She has played a combination of point and shooting guard. When we lost Kate for those four games she filled in at the point and did a good job.”

Role players for St, Joe’s includes KK Geignetter (5-7 junior guard).

“KK chose to play varsity to compete against better players. She has done a great job in game prep playing the better shooter on the other team when we prepare for games,” Lindwall said.

“Brady Beiser and Angela Muir are team managers and make for great teammates.”

Lindwall reflected on what he termed a special season.

“Everything is relative to the time you go through. We’ve had state championship teams, we have had teams make FCIAC runs. These guys have gone through a tough situation trying to keep themselves and others safe. These girls have played basketball for a lot of years. They know their roles and they are supportive of each other. It’s a special team because we’ve gone through a difficult time together.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354