Finishing with a flurry.
That’s how the Greenwich High School boys basketball team concluded its game against formidable FCIAC foe St. Joseph Friday night, courtesy of Connor Parkes.
A junior guard, Parkes scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Cardinals erase the nine-point deficit they faced following the third quarter and earn an all-important conference victory.
Parkes’ clutch fourth-quarter play ignited a 25-point fourth quarter for Greenwich in its 62-57 come-from-behind win over visiting St. Joseph. The victory raised Greenwich’s record to 8-5 overall and 5-4 in the FCIAC, as it continues to make a push toward qualifying for the eight-team conference tournament, which has a lot of teams in contention for the postseason tourney. St. Joseph (7-6, 4-5) trailed 18-13 after the first quarter, held a 31-26 advantage heading into halftime, then were ahead, 46-37 going into the fourth quarter.
“The first four minutes and last four minutes of a high school basketball game are the most important and we won both the first four and last four,” Greenwich coach Todd Trimmer said.
Indeed, though the Cardinals trailed at halftime, they jumped out to a quick first-quarter lead, points that proved to be significant.
“Every game, we always have a huddle and we always talk about the first four minutes being very important, it really sets the tone,” said said Greenwich junior guard Aidan Karson, who scored seven points.
Senior power forward/center Dominic DeLuca totaled 10 points, junior guard Jonathan Brennan posted nine points and senior guard James Wailgum also finished with nine points for the Cards. For the Cadets, sophomore Raheem Murray scored 11 of his game-high 19 points during the second half, while sophomore guard Tyrell Wright had nine of his 13 points in the first half.
Parkes basket cut the Cadets’ lead to 51-49 late in the fourth quarter. After a layup off a putback by Wright put St. Joseph back up by four points at 53-49, DeLuca scored from the low post, making it 53-51. Parkes’ 3-pointer from the left side gave Greenwich a 54-53 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and at the 2:45 mark, his layup from the right side gave the home team the advantage for good at 56-55.
“I got in foul trouble in the third quarter, I was sitting,” Parkes said. “When I went back in, I was angry and I stepped it up. I guess the adrenaline kicked in, I was hyped and did what I had to do.”
Another layup by Parkes put the Cards on top, 58-55, with 1:59 to go in the final quarter.
“Parkes wasn’t going to be denied in the fourth quarter,” Trimmer said. “He made key baskets for us.”
Besides finishing the game strong due to efficient play on both ends of the court, a quick start was key to the Cards’ crucial conference win against the visitors from Trumbull. Senior 6-foot-8 center Jack Quinn hit a long jumper from the right side, putting GHS ahead, 11-5 at the 2:50 mark of the first quarter.
A pair of foul shots by Wailgum and a basket off an offensive rebound by Quinn extended Greenwich’s edge to 16-5 with 2:04 to go in the opening quarter. Quinn scored seven points, sophomore guard Matthew Maloney had four points and junior forward Xavion Faison added two points for the victors.
DeLuca, a 6-foot-6 power forward and Quinn form a productive rotation of post players for GHS.
“It’s a really good combination of rebounding and scoring,” Quinn said of he and DeLuca’s play. “It definitely works well. I wasn’t too happy with how I shot tonight, but I was trying to bring the team back into the game with a spark. We had a size mismatch which is a common theme and we tried to take advantage of it.”
St. Joe gained the momentum in the second quarter against Greenwich’s 2-3 zone, thanks to Wright, who drove hard to the basket for a pair of layups and Murray, who turned a couple of GHS turnovers into points. Wright’s fastbreak layup, junior Sean Christy’s basket and senior guard Brandon Hutchinson’s 3-pointer from the left corner gave the Cadets the lead at 28-24 late in the second quarter.
“We came out and were very efficient, we played good defense and got into the pace of the game the way we wanted,” Trimmer said. “We were up 18-8 and then we just kind of fell apart and we started getting really careless with the basketball,” Trimmer said of the second quarter. “They knocked down some shots and hit some big 3s.”
The Cadets maintained their lead in the third quarter, extending their cushion to nine points on two occasions. Christy had 11 points for St. Joseph, which took a nine-point lead into the final quarter, but was outscored 25-11 in the fourth frame.
Greenwich mostly played man-to-man defense in the second half, as did St. Joseph.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we were very aggressive defensively, we were aggressive with our hands and we got some stops and turnovers,” Trimmer noted.
DeLuca, a member of the Cardinals’ Class LL state championship football team this past fall, was active throughout, grabbing rebounds, drawing fouls and playing physical defense in the low post.
“It’s a lot of fun when it’s an aggressive game,” DeLuca said. “It’s not football, but it’s still an aggressive game, so I have to go out there and do my part. We still have a lot of mistakes that we need to clean up during practice the next couple of days.”
Brennan made a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, bringing the Cards to within 49-47 with 5:41 to play.
“Coming off a loss (to Trumbull), we needed this momentum boost,” Brennan said. “St. Joe’s had the same record as us. Fighting for a playoff spot, it was huge to get this win over them. We came out the gates hot in the first quarter, then in the fourth quarter we got going.”
The schedule doesn’t get any less challenging for Big Red. They will visit defending FCIAC champion Ridgefield on Tuesday, then travel to Danbury on Friday.
“I’m really happy the team pushed through to win – there was a lot of intensity,” Parkes said. “We have two really hard games coming up and we know that we know we are capable of winning those games. We just have to put the work in.”
“We definitely started off slow at the beginning of the season, we’ve picked it up, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Karson noted.
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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