Greenwich Country Day School

Sacred Heart Greenwich tops Greenwich Country Day School in FAA basketball matchup, improves its record to 2-0

Photo by David Fierro: Sacred Heart Greenwich forward Payton Sfreddo looks to pass the ball during a game against Greenwich Country Day School on Dec. 8, 2021, at Sacred Heart in Greenwich.

Like its season-opener against Hotchkiss School, the Sacred Heart Greenwich basketball team received points from almost every player versus Greenwich Country Day School in Wednesday’s FAA matchup.

And like it’s first game of the season, Sacred Heart used contributions from all its players to thrive defensively and in transition.

In an all-Tigers game, Sarah Augustine and Payton Sfreddo helped the Sacred Heart Tigers emerge victorious, scoring 17 and 15 points, respectively, in a 67-46 home win. The victory raised Sacred Heart’s record to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the FAA, heading into Friday’s league game at School of the Holy Child.

Augustine, a 6-foot-3 senior center/co-captain scored 11 of her team-high 17 points during the first half, while Sfreddo, a versatile sophomore forward totaled nine first-half points for Sacred Heart, which received scoring from nine players. Mixing in an effective zone, with an aggressive man-to-man defense and some full court pressure, SHG held a 21-11 lead after the first quarter and entered halftime with a 37-21 advantage.

“Our defense was strong, we stopped them early, especially with our new defense that we learned, I think it really puts pressure on top, so it caused turnovers and some fastbreaks for us, which was really helpful,” Augustine said. “We really focused on the defense to create our offense, which was good and we made sure we hustled a lot to get those steals, which created good looks.”

Sacred Heart Greenwich’s Kaitlin Robinson lines up a free throw against Greenwich Country Day School.

Sophomore point guard Madison Hart contributed 10 points, including a 3-pointer and senior forward/co-captain Franny O’Brien swished a 3-pointer on her way to a 7-point effort for the victors.

“It’s definitely always a team effort for us,” O’Brien said. “Everyone contributes, whether it’s scoring, defensively, assists – everyone plays a role on the team, which is the best part about it.”

Coached by Elisa Brown, the Greenwich Country Day Tigers are an up-and-coming squad in the FAA/NEPSAC. GCDS is in the midst of its first full season as a varsity team and is showing steady improvement.

“The first year we were JV/varsity, the second year (2020) was the COVID year, so now this is our first real season,” Brown said. “We are testing out the waters, we’re seeing what’s out there competition-wise and we are looking to progress every single day.”

Greenwich Country Day School’s Anna Lonski catches an inbound pass while being defended by Payton Sfreddo of Sacred Heart Greenwich during a basketball game held at Sacred Heart Greenwich on Dec. 8, 2021.

Greenwich Country Day was paced by an excellent offensive effort by Kelly Holmgren. A forward, Holmgren scored a game-high 22 points, 12 of which came in the first half. She shot 8 for 12 from the foul line in a game that saw both teams draw a lot of fouls and shoot a significant amount of free throws.

“They had two good shooters and it was difficult for us to lock them down,” O’Brien said of GCDS. “We excelled in going to the basket hard, so we were able get a lot of fouls and get to the line.”

Sacred Heart opened a 10-point second-quarter lead at 25-15 when eighth grader Ava Curto converted a layup off a steal. After Holmgren made a free throw, Curto swished a short jump shot and Sfreddo scored in transition, giving the home team a 29-16 advantage. Later in the second quarter, Sfreddo made a 3-pointer from the top of the key Augustine scored off a putback, making it 34-18 with 1:11 to go in the second quarter. Sophomore guard Olivia Leahy beat the clock, making a fastbreak layup as the buzzer sounded ending the first half, putting the Sacred Heart Tigers on top, 37-21.

SHG was able to get out on the fastbreak by forcing some turnovers and focusing on pushing the ball up the court.

“Our defense was good in the first half, we created a lot of havoc,” Sacred Heart coach Ayo Hart said. “It was pretty good in the second half. We sent them to the line a lot, but we got a lot of rebounds, including offensive rebounds.”

Added Augustine: “We really focused on the defense to create our offense, which was good and make sure we hustled a lot to get those steals, which created good looks.”

Sarah Augustine of Sacred Heart takes a free throw during the second half against Greenwich Country Day.

Augustine scored off a strong low post move, then Sfreddo made a basket in transition off the press-breaker, opening Sacred Heart Greenwich’s edge to 41-22 early in the third quarter. SHG led by as many as 23 points, before GCDS trimmed its deficit to 13 points with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Guard Brianna McDermott shot 5 for 6 from the foul line and finished with 11 points for Greenwich Country Day, which utilized a full court press in the second half. Forward Anna Lonski chipped in five points for GCDS.

“I think we played tough,” Brown said. “The second half, we came out and played aggressive. We are looking to progress every single game – that’s our focus.”

GCDS hosts Hopkins School on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“We have a lot of underclassmen,” Brown said. “We have two seniors, four juniors and the rest are sophomores or freshman, so our team is learning.”

Franny O’Brien of Sacred Heart looks to move the ball up the court against Greenwich Country Day.

Curto totaled six points, freshman guard Eva Wilkerson had four points, junior forward/center Kaitlin Robinson contributed four points and Leahy and sophomore Maddie Hooper had two points apiece in the winning effort.

“Today, we really pushed the transition, we got a lot of fastbreak layups, which is something our team has been working on for a while,” O’Brien said. “Those fastbreaks were really valuable to us today. We lost our focus for a little bit at the end, but we got it back and we were able to finish really strong.”

Eva Wilkerson takes a free throw for Sacred Heart Greenwich vs. Greenwich Country Day.

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