“It was an ugly win, but we’ll take it.”
That was the sentiment shared by Greenwich High School boys basketball coach Todd Trimmer and his players, following their season-opening game against Joel Barlow Thursday night in Redding.
Nothing came easy for the Cardinals, who struggled to make shots, had trouble getting the ball inside, found it difficult to get out in transition and had some issues on the foul line. Yet strong overall defensive play, some key points from James Pilc and Dean Brown and a solid effort off the bench from several athletes, was enough for the Cardinals to register a win on this night.
Pilc, a senior guard, scored 12 points, Brown, also a senior guard, added 11 points and junior backcourt mate Logan Galletta posted 10 in Greenwich’s workmanlike 52-41 comeback win over host Joel Barlow.
Indeed, though Greenwich was hoping to be more efficient in their first game of its 2021-2022 season, it was pleased with the final result and gladly exited Joel Barlow with a victory.
“It wasn’t our best, we can definitely improve in a lot of areas,” Pilc said. “But a win is a win and we’ll take that.”
Senior forward Flynn Milledge scored seven quick points off the bench, while senior power forward/center Dominic DeLuca had five points for Greenwich, which trailed 11-7 after the first quarter, before entering halftime with a 22-20 advantage.
“It was an ugly win, but we’ll take it,” said Trimmer, who is in his second season at the helm. “It’s the kind of game we want, but we didn’t execute and didn’t finish and we took a lot of bad shots that we typically don’t take in practice. Tonight was one of those nights where we didn’t have it offensively at all.”
Timely baskets by Brown and Pilc enabled Greenwich to methodically build a double-digit second-half lead.
“We got some contributions from Dean and and James in the second half and when we moved the ball, we were able to extend the lead a little bit,” Trimmer said. “That’s a really gritty team. They were tough, they were physical, but we found a way to win.”
Barlow (0-1) received 17 points from senior guard Seb Hurlbut and a 10-point effort from senior forward Carter Janki. The Falcons held leads of 7-1, 11-7 and 18-12, before Greenwich found some rhythm on offense and got some shots to fall.
“I thought we played well enough on defense, we forced them into some uncomfortable situations,” said Trimmer, whose squad mostly played a man-to-man defense and mixed in a zone. “On offense, we couldn’t get into transition, we couldn’t get it into the post, we couldn’t get it to the short porch, but I tip my cap to the guys, because they weren’t going to lose that game.”
Seven points from senior guard Cieran Casey gave the Falcons an early 7-1 lead. The Cards managed to score only two points during the game’s first six minutes, both of foul shots from Pilc and Galletta. Trailing 11-2, the Cardinals closed to within 11-7 behind a 3-pointer from the left side by sophomore guard/forward Jonathan Brennan and a layup off a steal by Milledge.
A 3-pointer from the left corner by Hurlbut and a runner in the lane from Janki put Joel Barlow on top, 18-12, at the 3:24 mark of the second quarter. However, the Cardinals ended the opening half with a 10-2 run to take a two-point edge.
Pilc swished a turnaround, fadeaway jumper from the baseline, Galletta scored in transition and Brown buried a 3-pointer from the left wing, putting the Cardinals ahead, 19-18, at the 2:43 mark of the second quarter.
Jack Quinn, a 6-foot-7 junior center, scored off a strong move in the low post with 4.5 seconds left in the second quarter, giving Greenwich a 22-20 lead going into halftime.
“The more we passed the ball, the more we got open,” Brown said of the Cardinals’ comeback. “Our whole roster can shoot pretty much. As long as we pass the ball, we can always get open shots.”
Greenwich began the second half in stellar fashion. DeLuca scored in the post, Brown converted a layup and DeLuca made another basket off a putback, stretching the Cardinals’ lead to 28-21 early in the third quarter.
Pilc made a short jump shot, then drove the lane and made a layup while being fouled. He converted the ensuing free throw to give Greenwich a 34-22 advantage with 3:25 remaining in the third quarter.
Hurlbut scored four straight points to cut Barlow’s deficit to 34-26, but the Cardinals capped the third quarter with an 8-2 run to seize a 42-28 lead. Aggressively driving to the basket, Brown scored against the Falcons’ man-to-man defense, then Milledge swished a 3-pointer with two seconds to go in the quarter, making it 42-28.
“It was our ball movement, that was crucial,” Pilc said. “We knew we had to get some buckets to pick up our offense. Dean played really well for us too.”
Galletta who drove to the basket strong throughout the non-conference matchup, had four fourth-quarter points, while Brown, Pilc and Milledge each chipped in two for the victors.
Helping spark Greenwich’s defensive effort was senior center Chason Barber, who crashed the backboards hard for rebounds.
“We got great lifts,” Trimmer said. “The bench was great. These kids know there’s a potential to have a game like this, but it’s a good win.”
Up next for Greenwich is another road game. They will travel to Madison on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game matchup against non-conference foe Daniel Hand.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Brown said. “I think we’re one of the most competitive teams in the entire league, so it’s huge for us to start the season with a win.”