Greenwich High

Greenwich boys basketball team defeated by No. 2 Northwest Catholic in second round of CIAC Division II Tournament

Greenwich’s Dean Brown, left, looks to make a move while being guarded in a state playoff game vs. Northwest Catholic in West Hartford on March 10, 2022. The Cardinals lost in the second-round Division II Tournament game.

Greenwich began Thursday night’s state tournament game against host Northwest Catholic strong, as it trailed the host Athletics by only two points at the end of the first quarter and was right in the matchup at halftime, facing an 11-point deficit.

Yet as the second half progressed, the Lions showed why they are the No. 2-seeded team in the CIAC Division II Tournament and have only two losses so far this season.

Receiving 28 points from senior guard Matthew Curtis and 14 points from freshman 6-foot-9 forward Badara Diakite, Northwest Catholic pulled away for a 72-45 win over 18th-seeded Greenwich in the Round of 16 of the CIAC Division II Tournament. The Lions (22-2) host seventh-seeded Crosby tonight in the Division II quarterfinals.

A much-improved Greenwich team ended its season with a record of 13-9. Northwest Catholic held a 13-11 lead after the first quarter, was ahead 35-24 at halftime and brought a 47-32 lead into the fourth quarter, before finishing the game with a flurry.

The Cardinals were paced offensively by junior guard Logan Galletta’s 13 points, nine points from senior guard James Pilc and seven points from junior guard Dean Brown.

Greenwich huddles up at the start of the third quarter of its Division II state tournament game against Northwest Catholic.

“I couldn’t be prouder of these kids, all the adversity they have gone through the past couple of years,” said Greenwich coach Todd Trimmer, who concluded his second season at the helm. “There’s only six times in the history of Greenwich High that they’ve made it to the second round of states and the last time that Greenwich beat anyone out of Fairfield County in states was 1997. Only four teams in 25 years have gone to the FCIAC Tournament and we’re two of the five.”

Coached by John Mirabello, who has more than 600 victories at Northwest Catholic, the Lions have four players that stand 6-foot-7 or taller and the 6-3 Curtis, who is known as one of the premier players in Connecticut. Northwest Catholic received a first round by in the tournament, before facing Greenwich Thursday night.

“This team (Greenwich), these kids are tough, competitive, fast, they’re good players and it took my guys a while to figure out and adjust,” Mirabello said. “I think coach does a great job with them. I love how their kids play, they’re so quick, they move the ball around.”

“The kids inside, everyone does their thing very well,” Mirabello continued. “They made it hard for us offensively. They forced us into some bad shots early. We talked at halftime, we said, we have to do a better job. I said, now you now what you’re dealing with.”

The home team added on to their double-digit halftime lead, by making perimeter shots and scoring baskets in transition. They also forced several turnovers that resulted in points.

“I’m so proud of the kids all year long, they’ve been able to adjust and settle in and do things they are capable of doing,” Mirabello said of his team. Our team was getting frustrated, because they were getting denied by Greenwich’s defense, but they started moving the ball a lot better and guys made some shots and we started feeling more confident.”

Greenwich’s Flynn Milledge, (No. 10) is defended by Northwest Catholic’s Matt Curtis during Division II Tournament action.

Converting a mix of jump shots and layups, Curtis scored 16 of his 28 points during the opening half, enabling the Athletics to seize an 11-point halftime advantage.

A layup by Brown, a baseline jumper by Pilc and a fadeaway jumper from the baseline by Pilc kept the Cardinals to within 13 points of the Athletics at 43-30 late in the third quarter. The victors broke the game open in the final quarter, with sophomore Gianni Mirabello converting a 3-pointer, making it 57-36 and Diakite scoring in transition off a steal, upping the lead to more than 20 points. Sophomore 6-7 forward London Jemison put the exclamation point on Northwest Catholic’s fourth-quarter run with a dunk off an alley-oop.

“They’re a good team,” said Galletta, who concluded his first season on the squad. “We knew what we were coming into they were very highly-ranked. They kind of took it to us at the end, they ran the floor and we didn’t back to well.”

Greenwich, which posted a 43-34 road win against 15th-seeded Simsbury in the tournament’s first round, got six points from senior 6-foot-5 center Chason Barber, six points from sophomore guard Aidan Karson and two points from junior forward Dom DeLuca.

Greenwich’s James Pilc looks to make a move along the baseline while being tightly defended.

“I’m obviously pretty sad, it’s not where we wanted to be when our season ended, but there’s only one winner at the end of the season,” said Barber, one of the Cardinals’ captains. “I felt we all left it out there.”

Greenwich displayed a lot of aggression throughout the game.

“We went in there knowing we had nothing to lose, they had everything to lose,” Barber said. “We played our hardest and we all know we tried our hardest in this game and left it on the court. This is the best Greenwich basketball has been in a while. I feel we made an impact on these young guys.”

The game marked the final game for the Cardinals’ eight seniors, including their four captains, Barber, James Pilc, Flynn Milledge and Andrew O’Donnell.

“It was good to get a state playoff win, but overall, it was a good season, we had a lot of fun together as a team and I’ll miss all of my teammates,” Pilc said. “Being the captain meant the world to me, being able to lead my friends and teammates. It was one of the biggest honors you can have as a high school athlete, so that was nice for me.”

James Pilc follows through on a 3-point shot for Greenwich in its game against Northwest Catholic.

Said Milledge: “We built off of last year and we made huge progress this year. We hate going out like this but we fought really hard. Coach Trimmer has done an awesome job of building this program. He’s a great coach and I had the greatest teammates I could have asked for. It’s going to be tough not coming to practice tomorrow.”

“This was a good group of character kids and they worked hard,” Trimmer said. “They battled and they worked hard in practice, they are coachable, great kids.”

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