What Silvestro didn't expect -- and he can hardly be blamed for this -- was that Norwalk senior guard Nick Boccanfuso would be such a matchup problem for the Falcons. Boccanfuso scored 10 points, including 9 in the first quarter, as the Bears opened an early lead and held off a late rally from the Falcons, winning 58-53.
Norwalk ran its record to 8-3, while Ludlowe dropped to 5-6.
"We started out in man and (Boccanfuso) was beating our guy on the dribble and killing us with assists and shots. And coming in he wasn't necessarily the one we were worried about," Silvestro said.
Norwalk swarmed Ludlowe with a profitable press in the first quarter, converting several turnovers into easy buckets to go ahead 10-2 before Silvestro called a timeout at 5:48.
"They run a different press than a lot of teams where they have a guy in the middle," Silvestro said. "So we just had to adjust to getting it to the side and over the top a little bit."
Ludlowe, which has surrendered more than 60 points to just one team all season (to Fairfield Prep in a 65-35 loss) gave up 22 points to Norwalk in the first quarter and trailed by eight points. But the Bears settled down in the second quarter, as both teams scored 10 points.
"They're a well-coached team and they made adjustments, so they were able to break our press," Norwalk coach Tom Keyes said. "We just weren't able to sustain that level of energy throughout the game."
The switch in Norwalk's defense affected their offense, Boccanfuso said.
"We had a lot of pressure (in the beginning) and we were having transition shots. But then we started settling for jumpers and they weren't falling for us," he said.
Kane, who had eight points in the first half and finished with 25, scored Norwalk's first 6 points of the second half. The lead hovered between 8 and 11 points until Kane grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled deftly through traffic and went coast to coast and scored on a plus-one play. A contingent of Norwalk fans responded by chanting, "He's-a-sophomore!"
Norwalk had the momentum, but Ludlowe didn't fold and the beginning of the fourth quarter belonged to the Falcons. Senior forward Patrick Gutierrez (team-high 18 points) scored five points and Ludlowe scored the quarter's first 7 points to close the deficit to just 4 points, 46-42. Later when Gutierrez hit one of his four 3-pointers, the Falcons trailed by 3, 48-45, with 3:38 left.
Silvestro felt confident about his team's comeback chances.
"I had a really good feeling about the end of this one," Silvestro said. "Our strategy changed. We were attacking. We're not an attacking team. I thought this was the night where we'd get over the hump. We were right there with St. Joseph, in their gym, and I didn't have that feeling. We were right there with Central. Same thing. Here I thought it could happen."
When Ludlowe junior guard Mark Malone hit two free throws with under a minute left in the game, Ludlowe again trailed by just 3 points. But Norwalk hit clutch free throws on their end -- two by Kane and two by sophomore guard Jeremy Linton -- and averted the comeback.
"We came off a hard loss to Bassick, so we came out tonight not willing to accept a loss at all," Boccanfuso said.
Norwalk 58, Ludlowe 53
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE (5-6)
Dan Santella0 0-0 0 Matt Doyle 5 1-1 13 Mark Malone 2 7-8 12 Darren Lee 0 0-0 0 Patrick Gutierrez 7 0-2 18 Stephen Scholz2 0-0 4 Connor Peterson 2 2-4 6 Brent Peiffer0 0-0 0 Chad Peterson 0 0-0 0 Totals: 17 10-15 51
NORWALK 22 10 14 12--58
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 14 10 11 18--53
3-pointers: N- Nick Boccanfuso, Jeremy Linton, Jabari Dear; FL- Patrick Gutierrez 4, Matt Doyle 2, Mark Malone