Greenwich High

Greenwich boys basketball team falls behind early in home loss to Hamden

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich guard James Pilc looks to pass during the Cardinals’ game against visiting Hamden.

The shots weren’t falling for Greenwich during its home game against Hamden on Saturday, in a matchup which also saw the Cardinals commit nearly 20 turnovers and struggle a bit defensively.

Indeed, it was a tough day all-around for the Cardinals, who are hoping that Saturday’s performance against the Green Dragons falls into the “just one of those games” category.

Hamden quickly built a double-digit first-half lead, which it maintained in the second half on its way to a 61-48 win in a non-conference game. Greenwich (6-3) trailed 17-10 at halftime, before facing a challenging 35-`19 halftime deficit.

“I didn’t expect that to happen,” Greenwich coach Todd Trimmer said. “When our basketball kind of breaks down, we’re kind of tough and resilient, we kind of get after you and we make up for it, that’s why we win ugly sometimes. Today, we did nothing. We weren’t tough, we weren’t tough with the basketball. Mentally, we made mistake, after mistake, after mistake.”

Senior guard Manny Boles scored 18 points – nine in each half – to pace the Green Dragons (4-8). Deandre Coardes, also a senior guard, added 11 points for Hamden, which created turnovers in the first half with its full court press.

Greenwich’s Chason Barber defends a perimeter shot by Hamden’s Elijah Holder during a game on Jan. 22, 2022.

Junior point guard Logan Galletta scored 11 points for Greenwich, which pulled to within 42-32 after three quarters, but was never able to cut Hamden’s lead to single digits in the second half. Dean Brown, a junior guard, had 10 points, while senior guard James Pilc and senior center Chason Barber posted eight points apiece for the Cardinals.

“Maybe it’s on me, maybe I didn’t have them prepared,” Trimmer said. “We thought we had a good game plan going in, but at the end of the day if we’re not executing and doing the things we need to do, that’s on me. That just wasn’t us today.”

Coardes’ layup off a steal and a basket in transition by Boles put Hamden on top, 14-4, with just under three minutes remaining in the opening quarter. A baseline jumper by Cardinals sophomore Jonathan Brennan with 15 seconds to go in the first quarter cut the deficit to 17-10 heading into the second quarter.

However, Hamden added on to its lead by pushing the ball up the court and forcing turnovers, behind its full court pressure defense. Coardes swished a shot from beyond the arc, then made a layup off a steal and scored again off a turnover, putting the Cards in a 26-12 hole at the 6:14 mark of the second quarter. A 3-pointer from senior Caleb Harris put the visitors in front, 29-14, later in the second quarter.

Dean Brown, right and James Pilc of Greenwich trap Hamden’s Jair Mathis during second-half action.

“We couldn’t make a shot, I bet we probably had 20 turnovers,” Trimmer said. “We couldn’t make a three-point shot, we couldn’t finish at the rim, we got out-rebounded and we didn’t take a charge when we had opportunities to take charges.”

Greenwich’s best quarter was the third, as it outscored Hamden, 10-7, to pull to within 42-32. Barber scored all eight of his points during the quarter, his last basket in the low post, making it 42-32.

Hamden started the fourth quarter strong, however, regaining its double-digit advantage. Seniors Caleb Harris and Derrell Redd and junior Raquain Brown scored six points apiece in the winning effort.

“They executed, they played better, they played stronger and they played tougher and beat us at our own place,” Trimmer said of Hamden. “Through something like this you have an opportunity to bounce back and right the ship, so we’ll see what we’re made of.”

Greenwich’s Jonathan Brennan comes up with a second-half steal against Hamden.

Guard Aidan Karson had five points, while senior forward Flynn Milledge and Brennan had two points apiece for Greenwich, which returns to conference play on Monday. Greenwich hosts Trumbull Monday at 6 p.m., in an FCIAC matchup.

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