Ridgefield entered Saturday night’s showdown against FCIAC boys basketball foe Greenwich with 15 victories, 13 of which were by 10 or more points.
Well, the Tigers continued their highly impressive pattern, earning another convincing double-digit win.
Playing tenacious man-to-man defense throughout, visiting Ridgefield improved its record to 16-2 with a 51-36 triumph against Greenwich in a late-season FCIAC matchup.
Sophomore power forward Dylan Veillette scored a game-high 19 points to power the Tigers in a game in which points were difficult to come by for most of the night – especially for the Cardinals.
Senior forward Matthew Knachel added 13 points for Ridgefield, which held a 7-6 lead following a physical first quarter and a 20-15 advantage at halftime. With two games remaining, the Tigers are in first place in the FCIAC with a 12-1 record in conference play and are on pace to get the No. 1 seed in the FCIAC Tournament, which begins on Feb. 26.
Greenwich, meanwhile, has an overall record of 11-7 and 8-5 in the FCIAC. The Cardinals, who have lost two straight games, are currently in eighth place in the conference with games against St. Joseph (tomorrow) and New Canaan (Wednesday) remaining.
Junior guard Logan Galletta scored 15 points, while senior guard James Pilc had 11 points for Greenwich, which has lost three of its last four games and has been held under 40 points in each of its three defeats.
“We just couldn’t get shots to fall,” Greenwich coach Todd Trimmer. “That’s a really good defensive team, but we were still getting good looks, we just couldn’t knock down shots.”
The Cardinals also played well defensively, limiting the visitors to two points for almost the first six minutes of the opening quarter. Early in the second quarter, Galletta’s layup gave GHS a 9-8 edge, but the Tigers took the lead for good with an 8-0 run to open a 16-8 lead. Veillette scored off a strong move in the low post, then Knachel buried a short jumper and converted a 3-pointer against Greenwich’s 2-3 zone, making it 16-8 at the 4:17 mark of the second quarter.
A Pilc layup and four free throws by Galletta, brought the Cards to within 16-15, but Ridgefield scored the final four points of the first half to enter intermission ahead by five, at 20-15.
In the third quarter after Greenwich closed to within 21-17 on a foul shot by senior center Chason Barber, Ridgefield embarked on a 9-0 spurt, sparked by four points from senior guard Carson Lust and baskets from Knachel and senior guard Justin DiFabio.
The victors led 35-23 following three quarters of action, then maintained their double-digit advantage in the final quarter. Both teams drew a lot of fouls. The Cards went to the foul line 22 times, making 13 of their attempts.
“We gave them all we could defensively, just offensively, way too many empty possessions,” Trimmer said. “It’s not going to be any different at St. Joseph on Monday, they’ll be ready to go after what happened last season,” Trimmer said – Greenwich defeated St. Joseph in the first round of last year’s FCIAC Tournament.
Lust added six points for Ridgefield, which successfully moved the ball on its way to getting good shots during the final two quarters. Barber and senior forward Andrew O’Donnell had three points apiece for the Cardinals, who had to work hard for their shots the majority of the game.
“We knew what we were coming against – a tough team, undefeated until the St. Joe’s game – they are a hard opponent, it was just shaky coming out at the beginning,” Galletta said. “They are a very good opponent, it just didn’t turn out the way we expected it to.”
Greenwich’s game against St. Joseph in Trumbull is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Monday.