Like several games so far this season, the Greenwich boys basketball team found itself in a tight matchup on Friday night, this time against visiting Trumbull.
Unlike recent games that hung in the balance in the fourth quarter, before the opposition emerged victorious, this time the Cardinals produced the ending they were seeking.
Senior guard A.J. Barber scored a team-high 16 points and his brother Chason, a junior forward, added 12 points to help power Greenwich to a well-earned 54-49 triumph against Trumbull in an FCIAC matchup.
The win halted a three-game losing skid for the Cardinals (2-5), who entered halftime in a 25-25 deadlock against the Eagles, then trailed 34-33 heading into the fourth quarter. The final quarter though, was the Cardinals’ best offensively, as they put up 21 points, eight of which came from A.J. Barber.
“We played really good defense the entire game and then on offense we had a really good in and out game,” said A.J. Barber, who will play football at Princeton University in the fall. “We were getting the ball in and then we were knocking down shots. That was the key.”
Displaying consistency for all four quarters was a welcome sight to the Cardinals, who saw leads disappear in losses against Darien, Ridgefield and Westhill.
“We just found a way to grind through this and we found a way to win,” Greenwich coach Todd Trimmer said. “We found a little gear that we haven’t been able to find in the fourth quarter. Going into the game, we really thought we were able to get what we wanted offensively, it was a matter of if we stepped up defensively and we did.”
Chason Barber (6-foot-5), continued his solid start to the season. Besides contributing 12 points, he effectively crashed the offensive and defensive backboards.
“It feels good, because after a few tough losses we were finally able to pull it together and we were able to finish the game,” Chason Barber said. “We’ve been in every single game we’ve played, they’ve all been close, so it feels good to finish one.
Greenwich’s offense had solid rhythm throughout, thanks to effective ball movement against the Eagles’ man-to-man defense.
“We were able to hit a lot of shots on the perimeter today, so that cleared out the paint and allowed me to get a little of rebounds,” Chason Barber said.
Trumbull was sparked by a 15-point effort from senior guard Mileeq Green, 14 points from junior forward Johnny McCain and 13 from junior guard Connor Johnston. James Pilc, a junior guard totaled 11 points, while senior guard Dan Arnold netted six for the Cardinals.
“We were all aggressive, we had good ball movement and we were moving off the ball really well,” Pilc said. “So I think our offense was flowing much better than it had been the past couple of games.”
After McCain gave the Eagles a 37-35 lead with a 3-pointer from the right side, the Cardinals went ahead for good when Pilc swished a shot from beyond the arc with 5:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. A.J. Barber buried a 3-pointer from the right wing at the 4:05 mark and Chason Barber scored in the low post, giving the Cards a 43-37 advantage with 3:29 to go in the final quarter.
A.J. Barber enabled Greenwich to ice the game, sinking five of his six free throw attempts in the final minutes. He also made two 3-pointers for the game.
“AJ gave us a huge lift in the fourth quarter on defense and by hitting big shots,” Trimmer said. “Tonight, were aggressive and we were attacking the basket better It seems like a lot of times in previous games, we were looking around seeing who was going to make a play, tonight all five guys on the floor contributed, which was good.”
Trumbull jumped out to a 14-8 lead and held a 17-15 edge following the first quarter, courtesy of Johnston, who scored 12 first-quarter points. In the second quarter, A.J. Barber connected on a 3-pointer, then converted a layup off a strong move to the basket, putting Greenwich on top, 23-17. The Cardinals applied full court pressure during portions of the second quarter, which proved to be effective.
“They got a couple of open 3s that we weren’t too happy about, but overall we had good energy defensively and the bench helped us out a lot,” Pilc said.
Senior forward Mason Muir had four points, while providing aggressive defensive play and senior guards James Rinello and Tommy Harford each had two points for the victors.
“Mason is always the glue guy our energy guy,” Trimmer said. “We get a lot out of him. That’s why we press, we can put him everywhere, because he gets deflections.”
Greenwich visits a tough St. Joseph squad on Monday.
“We are going to need all the momentum we could get going into Monday’s game against St. Joseph, the best team in the FCIAC,” A.J. Barber said. “So we have two days to prepare.”