For three quarters of tonight’s game between Greenwich and Conard in the first round of the CIAC Class LL Tournament, points were pretty difficult to come by for the Cardinals, who faced a five-point deficit entering the final eight minutes of action.
Then the fourth quarter began.
And once the final quarter commenced, the Cardinals began making key baskets, clutch free throws and steals and aggressively hit the offensive and defensive backboards.
All of those positive aspects added up to a Greenwich victory and a well-deserved trip to the Round of 16 of the Class LL tourney.
Junior guard Carolyn Frankle scored 13 of her team-high 18 points in the second half, senior center Kelly Martyanov finished with nine points and senior forward Cami Jablonski totaled all seven of her points in the fourth quarter in 16th-seeded Greenwich’s 43-40 comeback win over 17th-seeded Conard.
The Cardinals (13-9) advanced to the Round of 16, where they will visit top-seeded Enfield on Thursday.
Tonight’s matchup saw Greenwich trail Conard, 9-7, after the first quarter, then 18-13 at halftime. The Cards went into the fourth quarter behind, 26-21. Yet their execution greatly improved during the final quarter of play.
“They have been doing this all year,” said Greenwich assistant coach Tony Hernandez, who along with assistants Megan Wax and Jayla Faison, guided the team since head coach Rashamel Jones was unable to attend the game. “They played well as a team, stayed strong and they did well as a team, they didn’t put their heads down.”
Guard Emily Knowles scored a game-high 21 points, while guard Callie Cosgrove added 13 points for a young Conard team. Knowles and Cosgrove are both freshman. In this matchup between unfamiliar opponents, both squads played stellar man-to-man defense and made each other work especially hard for shots most of the game.
“Going into this game, I told them they are basically a carbon copy of us, except we have a little more height,” Hernandez said. “We were even teams, we play a similar style too. We definitely prepared well for them, we watched a lot of film and talked about a lot of things.”
A basket by Knowles gave Conard a 34-30 lead with just under three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. Jablonski converted a shot in the low post after receiving a nice pass from senior forward Kayla Anderson, bringing Greenwich to within 34-32. After the visitors failed to score on the ensuing possession. Martyanov got the ball near the foul line, pump faked, drove to her right and converted a layup while being fouled, tying the score at 34-34. She then made her foul shot, giving GHS the lead for good at 35-34 with 2:01 remaining in the final quarter.
“It feels great to get this win, the last time we were here was sophomore year,” Martyanov said. “I feel like we started off slow, but we came back and I’m really proud of everybody.”
As for her drive to the basket late in the game?
“We work on that all the time and I know I need to drive to the basket more, so it felt good.”
Jablonski made a free throw, Frankle converted a runner in the lane and Sergio swished three foul shots, putting the Cards on top, 41-36 with less than one minute remaining.
Conard rallied for four quick points in less than 10 seconds, closing to within 41-40 with 4.9 seconds to play. Frankle iced the game for the Cardinals, however, making two foul shots and Greenwich had its opening round win.
“The first quarter we came out and we did not perform the way we thought we were going to perform,” said Frankle, who scored nine fourth-quarter points. “We thought we were going to pound it inside and dominate. We didn’t start doing that until the fourth quarter and once we started doing that, it was all just matching their physicality and overcoming the obstacles we had to face down the stretch.”
Frankle converted a 3-pointer from the left wing area, knotting the score at 30-30, then after Knowles scored four straight points, Jablonski began the Cardinals’ run with a basket in the post.
“It was very high intensity, but we all pulled through together as a team,” said Jablonski, who was clutch in the final quarter. “Carolyn and Sophia were playing really well on defense and Kelly had some good blocks and we all pulled through.”
The home team twice stared at seven-point, second-half deficits. They trailed 20-13 early in the third quarter and 28-21 the first minute of the fourth quarter.
“I was scared a little bit in that fourth quarter, but I’m really proud of how we stayed focused,” Anderson said. “I’m so proud and I know we can continue it. Unfortunately, we have some experience with fighting back from deficits this season, but we fought back from their two seven-point leads.”
Anderson scored four points, Sergio had three points and senior guard Kristin Riggs had two points for the Cardinals, who jumped out to a 7-2 first-quarter lead, before the visitors rallied to take a 9-7 edge into the second stanza.
Martyanov pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked five shots, Jablonski grabbed five rebounds, Frankle had five steals and Sergio stole the ball three times for the victors. Sergio’s points came off key foul shots in the final minute.
“I kind of just free my mind of everything that’s going on,” Sergio said of taking foul shots. “I have to make the shot and just focus in on the shot. I think we handled it well, we were very prepared and we fought to the end.”
Greenwich effectively used its bench and made some adjustments as the game progressed.
“We talked to the girls about being flexible at any given time and interchangeable with our approach and the girls executed it flawlessly,” Wax said. “When we needed to go big, we went big, when we needed to go zone, they went zone and they really stepped up. They knew it was going to be about heart and hustle and in the fourth quarter they stepped up and made it happen.”
Greenwich’s second round game against host Enfield is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, but it may be changed to 4:15 p.m.
“I’m really excited, I have a lot of faith in our team,” Jablonski said of the next round.
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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