Start fast and finish fast – that was the Greenwich boys basketball team’s goal in its game against visiting Trumbull, according to coach Todd Trimmer.
Well, James Pilc certainly made sure the Cardinals got off to a strong start and finished with a flurry.
Pilc, a senior guard, scored a season-high 28 points, including four 3-pointers to power Greenwich to a decisive 60-43 victory over visiting Trumbull in an FCIAC matchup on Monday night.
The win moved Greenwich’s record to 7-3 heading into Thursday’s road game against Stamford. The victory was also a good bounce-back game for the Cardinals, who were coming off a disappointing performance in a 61-48 home loss to Hamden this past Saturday.
“We came out exactly how we wanted to,” Trimmer said. “We tend to start slow, but we came out and started fast and that’s what we wanted to do. Our whole motto for this game was to start fast and finish fast. Start fast from the first minute.”
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The Cardinals, who have started slowly in most of their games so far this season, held a 9-3 lead on the Golden Eagles following the first quarter. They extended their advantage to 19-3 two minutes into the second quarter, holding Trumbull to one field goal the first 12 minutes of play.
“Our defense was awesome in the first quarter,” Trimmer said. “Our man-to-man defense was really good tonight and that was the difference in the game.”
Junior guard Logan Galletta scored all 13 points in the second half, after picking up two fouls in the opening half, for Greenwich. Sophomore guard Aidan Karson added nine points off the bench, while senior center Chason Barber scored six points to also pace the winning effort.
Pilc poured in 17 second-half points for the Cardinals, who held a 21-16 halftime advantage.
“Last game was pretty tough against Hamden, especially for me, I struggled shooting, so it’s nice to get this one,” said Pilc, who besides hitting 3-pointers, swished several shots off the dribble. “I hit some early shots and that helped with my rhythm and we were all hitting our shots, so it felt good.”
A basket off a putback by senior forward Flynn Milledge and a 3-pointer from the left side by Pilc, gave GHS a 9-3 edge going into the second quarter. Junior center Jack Quinn grabbed an offensive rebound and scored, Pilc converted a layup and made a 3-pointer after receiving a pass from junior forward Dominic DeLuca and Karson scored in transition, putting the Cardinals in front, 19-3.
“We started off strong, they only had three points in the first quarter,” Karson said. “The second and third quarter they came back, but then the fourth got the win for us.”
Karson provided key minutes off the bench in the second quarter, after Galletta was whistled for his second foul. He also gave the Cards a lift in the second half.
“I’m one of the younger players, but once my confidence gets up I start making shots,” Karson said. “As long as I take my shots, I’ll stay in the game.”
Trumbull (5-5) ended the opening half with a 14-2 run to close to within 21-16 at halftime. Sophomore Ben Miller scored 18 points and made three 3-pointers to pace the Eagles. Junior Luca Antonio added 13 points, while junior Sean Racette had eight points for the visitors.
Pilc made a 3-pointer from the left wing and Barber threw down a dunk in transition, upping Greenwich’s lead to 26-18 early in the third quarter. Karson’s layup and foul shot capped an 8-0 spurt to start the third quarter, putting Greenwich in front, 31-18.
“Our ball movement has been really key for us in the past couple of games that we won and it’s been lacking in the games that we lost,” Pilc said. “It was nice to get the whole team involved.”
Down 44-34 after three quarters, Trumbull scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, three of which came from a shot from beyond the arc by Racette, cutting Greenwich’s lead to 44-39. But the Cardinals quickly added on to their advantage. Pilc made a leaner in the lane, then hit two 3-0 pointers, giving GHS a 53-41 edge with 4:09 remaining.
“Our offense wasn’t perfect,” Trimmer said. “It wasn’t super-efficient tonight. But it seemed like in the second half, any time they creeped in or made a three, James made a big shot, Logan had some drives and Aidan made a three. We didn’t play great offensively, but we hit some clutch shots in the second half.”
Galletta made two 3-pointers during his big second half.
“I came out and got two fouls, had to sit, but I came back in the second half with my head up and ready to go,” Galletta said. “After our loss to Hamden, we had a hard practice, came together and got this ‘W’ today.”
Besides making clutch shots, Greenwich’s defense was pretty sound throughout.
“The scouting report said they had a bunch of shooters, so we made sure to close out and play good man-to-man defense, which we usually do,” Galletta said.
Up next for Greenwich is two key road games against FCIAC foes Stamford on Thursday and Fairfield Warde on Saturday.
“Those FCIAC wins that we have so far are huge,” Pilc said. “We know we’re one of the top teams. Not everyone knows it, so we are going to still build on it and we’re going to try to get some big wins here coming up.”