With Sophia Sergio swishing several 3-pointers and Kristin Riggs making key baskets, the Greenwich High School girls basketball team was within striking distance of Fairfield Ludlowe the majority of Tuesday night’s FCIAC matchup.
Yet every time the Cardinals seemed primed to get the upperhand in this competitive conference game, the Falcons, one of the top teams in the FCIAC, added on to their advantage – especially during the fourth quarter.
Junior guard Rory Kudzy made sure visiting Fairfield Ludlowe did so, scoring 18 of her game-high 22 points during the second half, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter of her squad’s 59-48 win over Greenwich.
Earning their fourth straight victory, the Falcons moved their record to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in FCIAC play. Greenwich, which was coming off a home win against Brien McMahon is 2-2 in the FCIAC and has an overall mark of 2-3.
Sergio, a senior guard, scored a season-high 18 points to pace the Cardinals, with 14 of those points coming in the second half. She converted four three pointers overall, three of which came after halftime.
“I think that we definitely need to work on our offense, but overall, we did pretty well,” Sergio said. “It’s a hard loss, because we kept up with them the whole game. But it’s definitely a lesson learned – to keep fighting, especially the last quarter.”
Riggs scored seven of her 11 points in the second half for the Cardinals, who trailed 12-8 after the first quarter and 23-19 at halftime.
“I’m proud of the way we held with it,” Riggs said. “I think it’s about being able to stick with it, I’m proud of our performance. We’re still a young team, so we’re learning how to work together and with the time off, we’re still trying to climb our way back. We have to learn from this experience and move on.”
Ludlowe took a 39-34 advantage into the fourth quarter, then moved it to double digits, behind clutch shooting from Kuzdy.
“Down the stretch when we started to get close, they made some key plays,” Greenwich coach Rashamel Jones said. “They’re an experienced group, with a wonderful coach. Everything they do from the offense to the defense to the bench – everyone was into it – so I give them a lot of credit tonight.”
Junior center Caitlin Finnegan also helped pace the Falcons on both ends of the court, scoring 11 points. Sophomore Phoebe Shostak added nine points, while sophomore guard Amelia Keresey added eight points for the victors.
“Greenwich is an extremely tough team to play against and they always battle so hard year after year,” Ludlowe coach Sarah Kinsley said. “We knew it was going to be physical and I think in the second half we made those adjustments to be composed and slowing it down, instead of Greenwich controlling the tempo.”
Kinsley was impressed with the spark Kudzy gave her squad.
“Any time that a teammate has success the rest of the team feeds off of it and that’s what we did,” Kinsley said. “All of that energy and focusing on controlling the tempo helped us to win that game.”
Sergio registered six assists and five steals, along with her strong offensive performance.
“Sophia was the Energizer Bunny, she was hitting her shots, making steals and playing exceptional defense,” Jones said. “It was her night tonight, she was great.”
Riggs grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists, senior forward Kayla Anderson gathered eight rebounds and junior guard Carolyn Frankle had two assists and three steals for the Cards. Frankle scored five points, senior forward/center Kelly Martyanov had four points, senior guard Caroline Frey made two jump shots for four points and senior forward Cami Jablonski added three points for Greenwich, which plays St. Joseph tomorrow at home, then hosts Staples on Friday.
“Coming into this week, we have three very, very talented teams and talented programs, which is a little intimidating, but we’re playing on our home turf and we have to protect it,” Anderson said. “Coming off a loss here, the next two games we have to keep our head up and work as hard as we can take us to victories and success throughout the season.”
Frey’s jumper from the left corner and Sergio’s 3-pointer brought Greenwich to within 8-6 and 10-8 in the first quarter. Finnegan’s basket off a strong move in the low post made it 12-8 following the opening quarter.
A basket in the post from junior forward Madison Roman (7 points) and a reverse layup by Finnegan stretched the Falcons’ advantage, early in the quarter, but baskets by Martyanov, Anderson and a 3-pointer by Sergio from the left side, cut the visitors’ lead to 20-16 at the 3:11 mark of the second stanza.
In the third quarter, Ludlowe took a 30-21 edge after Kudzy scored on a layup and Finnegan made a free throw, but Sergio converted a 3-pointer from the left side and made a mid-range jump shot, cutting the Cards’ deficit to 30-26 midway through the third quarter.
Riggs’ shot from beyond the arc kept Greenwich, which mostly played a man-to-man defense, close, as it trailed, 39-34, heading into the final quarter. Kudzy began the fourth quarter with consecutive layups, giving Ludlowe a 43-34 lead. Shostak’s 3-pointer from the left wing, made it 46-34, before Sergio helped GHS cut into the Falcons’ lead with back-to-back 3-pointers. Finnegan was also key down the stretch for Ludlowe.
“No. 20 (Finnegan), she is a phenomenal talent,” Jones said. “She relieves pressure for them when we press them, she’s talking out there, in my opinion, she was the ‘X’ factor, because every time they threw it into her, she did something good with it.”
Said Kinsley, whose Falcons also played man-to-man defense: “We definitely have a post presence. Greenwich did a good job of being physical and boxing out and preventing us from getting those second chance opportunities in the first half. I think we made a good adjustment in the second half of just keep battling until the whistle.”
Greenwich was ignited off the bench by Jablonski and sophomore forward Julia Monteiro.
“Julia came in and played well for us, Camila came in and played well for us – their aggressiveness on the boards helped us. As I told them, they worked their way into more playing time.”
The Cardinals know they must be ready to face another tough opponent (St. Joseph) tomorrow, before hosting formidable Staples on Friday.
“Cutting is central to our offense and looking for the extra pass,” Sergio said. “I think we played really well, we played with them and we have a lot of confidence.”
Said Riggs: “We can’t get down about this loss. If we were to lose against Ludlowe, I’m glad it was in this way, just close enough that we could’ve won. It’s almost going to push us further to want it more. We got a taste of what it is to run with these teams.”
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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