Showing steady improvement throughout the season, the Greenwich High School girls basketball team has played in close games against its toughest FCIAC opponents, including Tuesday night’s matchup against Trumbull.
The Cardinals, who are in second place behind leader Trumbull in the FCIAC West Division, were in position to post a spirited win over the Eagles, as the lead and momentum shifted back-and-forth throughout the second half.
Yet a couple of key shots down the stretch proved to be pivotal for the visitors from Trumbull.
In an FCIAC game that saw both teams have their moments, Trumbull notched a hard-fought 40-37 victory over host Greenwich. With the win, the Eagles improved their record to 10-5 overall and 8-2 in the FCIAC. Greenwich’s overall mark stands at a solid 8-6 and 6-4 in FCIAC play.
“This is what the FCIAC has come down to this year, we have played a lot of close games,” Greenwich coach Megan Wax said. “The league is all pretty similar this year. A big chunk of the teams are similar. It could be anybody’s game, so it’s who is going to execute the best every single night.”
Senior guard/captain Sophia Sergio scored 17 points, including three 3-pointers, while junior forward Riana Xhekaj totaled 17 points, 10 of which came during the first half for the Cardinals. Trumbull held a 14-7 lead following the first quarter, then entered halftime with a 20-19 edge. The Cards went into the fourth quarter ahead, 30-28.
“I think we did really well, we’ve been improving a lot this season,” Sergio said. “I am proud of everyone. In close games like this, it comes down to missed foul shots, missed layups.”
Megan Garrity, a senior guard, scored nine of her team-best 12 points in the second half for Trumbull, which received 10 points from sophomore guard Lily Seltenreich. A 3-pointer from the top of the key by Sergio gave Greenwich a 30-28 advantage after three quarters of action.
Garrity converted a 3-pointer, putting Trumbull on top, 31-30, the first minute of the fourth quarter and after Sergio tied the score at 31-31, junior forward Sheri Oberhand gave the Eagles a 34-31 edge with a shot from beyond the arc from the left side with 4:52 to go in the final quarter.
A basket off an offensive rebound made it 36-31 in favor of Trumbull, then GHS pulled to within 35-33 on a layup by Xhekaj off a pass from Sergio.
“We all set our own goals before the game and most of us accomplished those goals, which is good, even though we lost,” Xhekaj said. “We have been focusing in on getting the ball into the post, kicking it out and looking to shoot, bounce passes and transition.”
Trailing 40-37 after Sergio made a layup, the Cardinals were unable to tie the game up with a 3-pointer in the game’s closing seconds. The 17 points were a career-high for Xhekaj.
“Riana has been putting in the work every single day at practice and it’s starting to show,” Wax said. “She’s finishing up at the rim and it’s nice to see her blossoming and pushing herself.”
Senior guard/captain Carolyn Frankle scored two points and sophomore forward Lara Young added one point for the Cardinals, who took a 23-20 lead early in the third quarter on a pair of foul shots by Xhekaj and layup off a nice drive to the basket by Sergio. The Sergio/Xhekaj combination carried the Cards’ offense in this FCIAC contest.
“Sophia played awesome, she never quits on any play,” Wax noted. “She is calm in tight situations and locking in on what she needs to do.”
After Seltenreich made a 3-pointer from the left corner, Trumbull was ahead, 14-7, but GHS closed to within 14-11 early in the second quarter, courtesy of a foul shot and 3-pointer from Sergio.
Both squads played mostly an aggressive man-to-man defense and had to work hard for their shots.
“Our defense has worked super hard to create chaos and force turnovers the past couple of games, including today,” Wax said. “Today, we had some shots not fall for us that had been falling the first half and we were not as aggressive on the offensive and defensive boards in the first half. In a game like this, it comes down to small things.”
Greenwich is playing without one of its starting forwards/post players in junior captain Julia Monteiro, who is injured. Therefore, Xhekaj’s workload has increased, as she has been relied upon heavily for rebounding and low post defense.
“We have been focusing in on getting the ball into the post, kicking it out and looking to shoot, along with making bounce passes and getting out in transition,” Xhekaj noted.
Greenwich’s close games against the upper echelon teams in the FCIAC also includes a 49-46 loss to Fairfield Warde and a 43-42 defeat against New Canaan.
“We all did really well, our posts are working on getting big in the paint and finishing,” Sergio said. “We are focusing on our post moves and kicking it out to our point guards, which is important.”
The Cardinals visit St. Joseph tomorrow, then host Ridgefield on Tuesday.
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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