Greenwich High

A strong first half helps Greenwich boys basketball team edge visiting Norwalk

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s James Pilc looks for an opening with the Cardinals on offense against visiting Norwalk in an FCIAC basketball game held on Jan. 18, 2022. The Cardinals posted a 43-40 win over the Bears.

One season ago, Greenwich’s boys basketball team struggled to close games out, as it experienced three overtime losses, along with a one-point defeat. Eight games into their 2021-2022 campaign, the Cardinals have shown a penchant for winning tight matchups, quite a change from last season’s scenario.

That’s part of why the Cardinals sport a record of 6-2 just before the season reaches its midway point.

Greenwich’s latest victory occurred Wednesday night against FCIAC foe Norwalk, a 43-40 triumph. Senior guard James Pilc scored a game-high 16 points and junior backcourt mate Logan Galletta added 11 points for the Cardinals, who limited the Bears to 12 first half points in this defensive-minded game.

“Being able to come out with the close games is big for us,” Pilc said. “Last year was painful going through all those overtime, triple overtime one-point losses, that was brutal. So it’s nice to be on the other side this year.”

Said Cardinals senior center Chason Barber, who scored eight points: “Last year, we didn’t know how to close games out. This year we’ve built off of that and because of that we have a better record.”

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s Dean Brown attempts a layup while being tightly defended during the first half of an FCIAC basketball matchup against Norwalk at Greenwich High School. Greenwich won, 43-40.

Junior guard Dean Brown totaled seven points for Greenwich, which held a 12-2 lead after the first quarter and went into halftime with a 23-12 advantage on Norwalk (2-6, 0-4 FCIAC). The Cardinals played an effective man-to-man defense, which they extended past the 3-point line and also mixed in a 2-3 zone.

“We forced them to take a lot of tough shots and we also extended,” Greenwich coach Todd Trimmer said. “Any time you can hold any team to 12 points, you’re doing something well. But we have to figure out a way to put four quarters together.”

Norwalk, which got into more of a rhythm offensively in the second half, received 11 points from senior guard Mysonne Pollard and eight points from senior guard Cam Edwards.

Greenwich’s James Pilc, left, moves the ball past halfcourt while being guarded by Anthony Moorer of Norwalk.

Pilc’s basket gave the Cardinals a 33-23 lead late in the third quarter, but the Bears finished the quarter strong, scoring five consecutive points to close to within 33-28. Senior forward Matt Terry snared an offensive rebound and scored, cutting Norwalk’s deficit to 33-30 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. A pair of free throws by Brown, Barber’s layup and Pilc’s layup stretched Greenwich’s edge to 39-32 later in the quarter.

Trailing 41-34, Norwalk registered six straight points on four points by Pollard, who threw down a dunk early in the fourth quarter and a basket by Edwards, to make it a one-point game at 41-40 with 1:13 left to play.

During the final minute, Greenwich worked the ball around the perimeter to take time off the clock, forcing Norwalk to foul. Pilc converted two key foul shots with 13.4 seconds to go, making it 43-40.

Dominic DeLuca of Greenwich, center, battles for the ball in the paint against visiting Norwalk.

“We knew they were going to come out hotter in the second half,” Barber said. “We were sloppy, but we refused to lose and that’s one of our best traits. Tonight, we wanted to use our own athleticism to stop their athleticism. Our team matched up well with them. Yes, they’re an athletic team, but so are we.”

Trimmer was pleased with the key plays his squad made at significant moments.

“Mysonne and Cam are two of the best athletes in the state, you know you’re not going to contain them for 32 minutes,” Trimmer said. “We knew they were going to come out and they were going to try to get after it. Cam hit a big shot to start the second half and Mysone had a big dunk. The best part about tonight’s win was they came out and took it to us, we settled down and took their punch and did what we needed to do to get the win.”

Chason Barber of Greenwich makes a move to the basket while being defended in a game against Norwalk.

Pilc scored eight points apiece in the first and second half, while Galletta had seven of his 11 points in the opening half for the victors.

“I’m just trying to get more involved and obviously, be aggressive and attack the basket,” Galletta said. “We’re all playing well together and syncing into the offense good.”

Greenwich visits Fairfield Warde Thursday at 6:30 p.m., then hosts Hamden Saturday at 12 p.m. The Cardinals’ game against Warde is a rematch of last season’s FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals, which the Mustangs won in overtime.

“Like James said, last year there were a bunch of close games and some close losses, so we just kind of dug our heels down like we did up in Hartford against Achievement First and Prince Tech (both victories) and just finished out tonight’s game strong,” Galletta said.

Greenwich’s Logan Galletta lines up a foul shot during the first half against visiting Norwalk.

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