RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – Kurt Steidl wanted to get off to a good start in his senior year with the Ridgefield High School boys basketball team. It’s hard to imagine how it could have been better.
Steidl averaged 30 points over one three-game span in December and has led the Tigers to a 5-1 record entering Tuesday’s game against Staples. Steidl was named The Ridgefield Daily Voice Athlete of the Month for his efforts.
After opening the season with a tough 48-42 loss to St. Joseph, the Tigers and Steidl have found their stride. Steidl scored 37 points in a 79-38 win over the Wilton in the second game and then poured in 30 in a 80-54 win over Harding. He added 23 in a 63-30 win over Darien.
“I definitely wanted to start the season strong,’’ Steidl said. “After that loss to St. Joseph, some people felt like our season would be over. But we kept playing hard and now we’ve won five in a row no, so it’s been a pretty good season so far.”
Ridgefield went 18-7 last year and reached the quarterfinals of the Class LL tournament before losing to eventual champion St. Joseph. But the Tigers lost four seniors from last year’s squad, which also fell in the semifinals of the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
Led by Steidl, the Tigers have made noise around the league in the new season. While Steidl has been the leader, Ridgefield has a deep team with multiple scoring options.
“Our team chemistry is great,’’ Steidl said. “All of us are capable of scoring on any given night.”
His offense has generated attention, but it is the Tigers’ commitment to defense that makes them a league contender. It is also one of the strengths of the 6-foot, 7-inch Steidl, whose wingspan causes havoc for opponents. Coach Carl Charles likes to use Steidl at the top of the zone defense.
“I remember an AAU coach telling me that defense will always get you on the court,’’ Steidl said. “Even if my shot isn’t falling, as long as I keep playing hard on defense I feel like I can still affect the game.”
He committed in September to attend the University of Vermont but had planned official visits to Brown, Northeastern and Dartmouth.
"My first trip was to Vermont, and I fell in love with it,’’ Steidl said. “They’re like a big family, it reminded me of my high school team. I just felt very comfortable there. I decided to go there after my first visit. I went to the others on unofficial visits, but I knew Vermont was where I wanted to go.”
He’ll head to college with the knowledge that he helped revive the Ridgefield program. In his freshman year, the Tigers finished 12-10. Since then, they have gone 44-12, made it to the league and state playoffs and left an inspiring legacy. After three straight losing seasons before Steidl set foot on campus, the team has been a consistent winner.
“I saw the program grow from one of the weaker programs to one of the favorites,’’ he said. “It’s been nice to be a part of that. More kids in town are signing up to play basketball just because of the success that we’ve had. If feels great to affect the community like that.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.