Although the victories haven’t come the Greenwich Academy basketball team’s way this season, it has been a winter of improvement for GA, which has only one senior and is in a rebuilding mode.
The lone senior on the Greenwich Academy team, guard Caroline DesChamps, was honored at Saturday’s game against Hopkins School – a matchup that saw the Gators produce one of their most competitive performances of the season.
After struggling in the first quarter, Greenwich Academy put together three solid quarters and trailed by just five points in the fourth quarter, before visiting Hopkins pulled away down the stretch, posting a 44-28 win.
“It was really nice to see everyone get together for a real important game,” DesChamps said. “I think everyone played the best they played the whole season. Everyone was so aggressive and it really meant a lot to see everyone play their 100 percent effort for me and it was nice to see the team bond too.”
Freshman forward Emily Sherman scored a team-high nine points, while junior Ellie Burdick added eight points for Greenwich Academy, which also got seven points from freshman point guard Ruby Montanez.
Hopkins was paced by 13 points from guard Kiersten Brennan and 11 points from forward Emma Maldon. The visitors jumped out to a 14-0 lead and was ahead, 23-11 at halftime. The Gators closed to within 27-17 after three quarters and 27-22 in the final quarter.
Greenwich Academy’s roster includes four freshmen, two sophomores, seven juniors and one senior, so it has a lot of first-year varsity players and athletes who are also new to the sport. Indeed, it has been an uphill battle in each game for GA, as it’s faced teams with more basketball experience throughout the season.
“We have such a young team, with freshmen and sophomores playing major minutes and I’m excited about the future,” said Greenwich Academy coach Jordan Griffith, whose squad was seeking its first win of the season on Saturday.
Through it all though, the GA team has maintained a positive outlook and continued to approach each practice and game as an opportunity to improve and learn about the sport.
“It is a situation where you look at the win-loss record and you might think that we are frustrated,” Griffith said. “But the way the girls have responded to everything I’ve done this year the way they have responded to what the season has been – they’re developing and to be honest they’re teaching me a little bit about how we can move forward as a program.”
Maldon made two first-quarter three pointers to help give Hopkins a 14-0 lead. Sherman scored seven of her nine points in the second quarter for GA, which also received two points apiece from Burdick and Montanez in the quarter.
Trailing 27-20, Montanez converted a 3-pointer and Burdick connected on a pair of free throws, cutting Hopkins’ advantage to 27-22 with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter. A Maldon 3-pointer, followed by a layup by forward Nina Gernhardt stretched Hopkins’ lead to 31-22 and the visitors closed out the game strong to earn the win.
“We’ve had a really fun time this year,” said Burdick, a three-sport athlete, who has committed to play lacrosse at Dartmouth. “We are picking each other up and encouraging each other and that will help us get better for the future. When we came back in the second half, that was super exciting. It was definitely a good sign for the future and it was nice to see that.”
Junior Maddie Azrak scored two points, as did DesChamps, who is also a co-captain of the team, along with senior forward Ellie Johnson.
“This was our best game by far and the effort level was there this game and I’m proud of everyone,” Johnson said. “Our communication was good and we really worked together as a cohesive unit, which I’m proud of.”
Johnson believes the season has tested the team’s mental toughness and perseverance.
“Because of our record, it is a very good mental activity to help, because you can’t always win all the time, so it’s important for us to stay positive throughout the season,” Johnson said.
Like Johnson, DesChamps has enjoyed her role as captain and has provided important leadership throughout the season.
“It’s been a lot of fun, I’m just glad that we can travel again and have some sort of back to normal,” DesChamps said. “Everyone has been really fun to play with and we have a great group of girls. Playing with my co-captain Elie Johnson, she is an amazing athlete and Ellie Burdick is amazing too and Ruby played great today. I’m so proud that everyone has improved so much.”
Griffith appreciates the effort his only senior, DesChamps, who was recognized on Senior Day, puts in.
“Caroline has been an incredible leader from the moment I took over this program,” he said. “She has shown great leadership and she has really shown the GA way.”
Said Johnson: “Caroline is the best senior and captain that we can ever ask for she works hard and inspires us every day.”
Greenwich Academy is back in action Monday against Greens Farms Academy in Westport.