Greenwich’s girls basketball team extended its winning streak to four games with a victory over visiting Darien Tuesday night, a triumph that was especially special for the squad’s group of seniors, who were indeed, in the spotlight on this night.
Yes, it was Senior Night for the Cardinals, a night where the team’s upperclassmen were celebrated for the dedication and commitment they have given to the program over the years. Following the game, the team’s non-seniors gave speeches about each senior during the Senior Night ceremony.
First of course, the night started off with the all-important game, which Greenwich won in hard-fought fashion against an upset-minded Darien team. In a close matchup throughout, the Cardinals held off the Blue Wave, 42-36, improving its record to 7-5 overall and 7-3 in the FCIAC.
Currently, Greenwich is in sixth place in the FCIAC and in prime position to earn a berth into the FCIAC Tournament. Darien (3-9) held a 14-13 halftime lead on Greenwich, which gained a 27-23 advantage after three quarters.
“I give them all the credit in the world, they took us to the wire,” Greenwich coach Rashamel Jones said of Darien. “They played us man-to-man the whole night, they didn’t back down one bit. We were in a fight the whole night from the first quarter until the last second of the game, so once again, I give them all the respect and credit in the world. They had us going deep into our bench.”
Junior point guard Carolyn Frankle led Greenwich in scoring for the fourth straight game, pouring in a game-high 15 points, 12 of which came during the second half. Senior forward/center Kayla Anderson added 10 points and senior guard Kristin Riggs totaled eight points for the Cardinals, who have won five of their last six games.
“It was a tough game, but I’m glad we pulled it off,” said Riggs, one of the team’s captains. “A win’s a win.”
“I knew tonight was going to be emotional,” said Anderson, a co-captain. “The game wasn’t the best, but we pulled out the win and that’s what I care about.”
The Cardinals, who played for the second time in as many nights, received four points and a team-best 14 rebounds from senior forward/center Kelly Martyanov, a key 3-pointer from senior guard Gillian Frey and two points from junior guard Sophia Sergio.
Anderson and Riggs each grabbed five rebounds, Frankle and junior forward Zaniya Huggins pulled down three rebounds apiece and senior forward Cami Jablonski and junior guard Laura Smego each had two rebounds in the winning effort.
“What it came down to was, we took care of the ball,” Jones said. “The first half, we had nine turnovers, the second half, we only had four. Once we take care of the ball, we can pretty much get any shot we want. Kelly did a phenomenal job with the rebounds, she had 14 rebounds tonight. That was a factor, her defense. She had a few major blocks, she’s plugging up that middle.”
Senior Maggie Ramsay had a team-high nine points for Darien, which got eight points apiece from juniors Jillian Vaught and Julia Erdlen. After Darien closed to within 21-20 late in the third quarter, Riggs and Frankle each scored on layups, making it 25-20 at the 2:12 mark. Later in the quarter, a basket off an offensive rebound by Anderson, gave Greenwich a 27-23 edge.
With the score 33-31, Frey connected on a 3-pointer, upping the Cardinals’ advantage to 36-31, before Darien junior Kate Avitable made a 3-pointer from the top of the key, bring her team to within 36-34.
“Hats off to Darien, they came out very strong and we had trouble matching their energy at the start,” Frey said. “But at halftime we had a talk and we were like listen, this is not Greenwich basketball and this is not the energy we brought the last three games.”
The Cards continue their busy week with a 6 p.m. home game against non-conference foe Glastonbury. They will then travel to Ridgefield on Friday for a 7 p.m. matchup.
“At the beginning of the season, I told the girls, ‘I want to take you into FCIACs, I want to take you into states and it’s coming around'” Jones said. “When we had our ups and downs, I told them we’re going to be a different team come January and February and we’re proving that now. We’re jelling, we’re building more chemistry, and confidence and that comes along with being together for a long period of time.”
Prior to the game, the seniors were introduced with their parents and after the game, the six seniors sat down before the Greenwich girls basketball community and fans and listened as the non-seniors on the team paid tribute to each of them with heartfelt speeches.
“Overall, it’s been a wonderful night and I’m thankful for all the coaches and parents are thankful,” said Anderson, a four-year varsity player. “This program is the best thing that’s happened to me in my life and high school experience. The family that you have, the heart that you need to bring and the hard work it brings out to you is great.”
Anderson, Riggs, Martyanov, Frey and Jablonski were each members of Greenwich’s 2019-2020 team that advanced all the way to the CIAC Class LL Tournament semifinals, but saw the game and the remainder of the season get cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last season was also modified, as the team only played 13 games because of COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“I’ve had a crazy four years here with everything that’s gone on, but I’m reflecting now and I’ve had a great career here at Greenwich, with a great coaching staff, great teammates and I’m really excited to finish it off strong. I’ve had a great time here, I’ve made lifelong friends. Coach (Chrys) Hernandez was like a second mother to me, I’ve made amazing friends here, it’s really been a family for sure.”
Said Martyanov, who also began her varsity career as a freshman: “Senior Night means a lot. Everybody coming together and appreciating one another is great to see. I’ve been here for four years and everyone has been so nice and supportive.”
Frey and Jablonski have also been mainstays on the Cardinals.
“Everyone looks forward to their senior season and just being around my teammates, some of them I’ve known for four years and some of them I’ve known for a few months, but it’s definitely one of the most special nights,” Frey said her senior season and Senior Night. “It was amazing. It was very special and something I’ll remember forever.”
Said Jablonski of her experience on the team and the current season: “You become so close to the girls, it’s like no other experience. It’s been going good, I have my friends the team, we’re all a family. We’re all connecting. Last year was rough, my sophomore year was rough, because of COVID and it’s finally becoming normal again. We have our fans here and it’s just a happier environment.”
Ashley Brown earned a spot on the varsity squad as a senior and has found her niche at the forward position.
“I thought it (Senior Night) was so special, so spectacular,” Brown said. “The underclassmen and all the parents really helped to make it feel special and helped to make this program thrive.”
As for her senior season: It’s everything I could have imagined it. It was everything I could have asked for.”