Finishing the regular season with a flurry, the Greenwich Country Day School girls basketball team won its final four games of the regular season – all league matchups – to propel itself up to fifth place in the FAA and the No. 5 seed in the upcoming FAA Tournament.
And the Tigers’ final regular season victory came in impressive fashion against the team it battled for the same No. 5 seed a season ago – School of the Holy Child.
Junior point guard Brianna McDermott scored a team-best 20 points, while freshman forward Mia Grant added 14 points for Greenwich Country Day, which topped visiting Holy Child, 52-48, in a key FAA matchup.
Up next for the Tigers is the FAA Tournament, where as the No. 5 seed, they will visit another Tigers team on Tuesday – fourth-seeded Sacred Heart Greenwich.
“It’s going to be an exciting game, we are super excited to play them again,” GCDS coach Elisa Brown said. “We are going to go at them and bring our all.”
Sophomore guard/forward Nina Ferry totaled 11 points, while senior forward Kylie Frank chipped in seven points for Greenwich Country Day, which finished the regular season with a record of 5-4 in the FAA. Against School of the Holy Child, which is 4-5 in the FAA and like GCDS was playing for the No. 5 seed in the FAA tourney, the Tigers were tied at halftime, 28-28, then held a 40-38 edge after three quarters of action.
McDermott scored 10 first-half points and converted five of her six free throw attempts for the game. The visiting Gryphons tried to pressure the Tigers point guard, but she was able to effectively navigate the squad’s offense with her slick dribbling skills.
“I think we had a great start on offense,” McDermott said. “The 2-3 hurts us when we’re not shooting the ball well, but once we started moving the ball, it all started clicking.”
McDermott scored eight of the Tigers’ first 12 points to help the home team play the Gryphons to a 12-12 tie late in the opening quarter. Ferry’s 3-pointer from the left corner gave GCDS a 15-14 advantage, but Holy Child went on a 7-1 run to go ahead, 21-16. Junior forward Zanyah Bernard helped pace Holy Child’s spurt. She scored a game-high 20 points, doing a lot of damage from the foul line – she converted 11 of 13 free throws for the Gryphons.
Senior guard Paloma Snisky banked in a shot, Frank made a mid-range jump shot and junior forward Anna Lonski converted a layup, evening the score at 21-21 and the game remained tied at 28-28, going into halftime.
“The girls decided to lock in and do all the little difficult things that we talk about,” Brown noted. “Containing the ball, pushing when we need to and taking the right shots. They really stepped up and played the game we needed to play.”
Grant powered the Tigers’ offense in the third quarter, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the quarter. Scoring on back-to-back strong low post moves, Grant put the Tigers on top, 36-30, at the 4:10 mark of the third quarter.
“I told Mia, ‘you to rebound and finish around the rim,’ and she did just that,” Brown said of Grant. “The second half, she came out on fire. I’m so proud of her.”
With the score knotted at 38-38, McDermott went coast-to-coast for a layup, giving Greenwich Country Day a 40-38 advantage entering the final quarter.
“The hardest part for her was she had three fouls going into the third quarter, so for her to be able to push through that and still be a great factor was so impressive,” Brown said of McDermott. got “She got all of her teammates in play which was crucial for our team.”
In the fourth quarter, two of Holy Child’s players became sidelined with injuries, one of whom was guard Alessia Paladino, who scored nine points. Paladino injured her right knee while attempting to gather a rebound.
A layup from Ferry extended Greenwich Country Day’s lead to 46-38 at the 4:52 mark of the fourth quarter. McDermott converted a key shot, then made two clutch foul shots in the closing minutes.
“We stepped up in key moments and everybody had some important shots when we needed them,” Ferry said. “It was a team effort and everyone contributed to this win.”
Ferry is impressed with how much the team has improved from the start of the season.
“Our chemistry has improved and we’ve come together nicely as a team,” she said. “We’re making less mistakes and we’re playing together well as a team.”
Said Brown: “Nina Ferry had some incredible blocks today and she made some adjustments, which was huge. She had blocks, rebounds and made some key shots huge for our team.”
The Tigers were also stellar defensively.
“Our defense was a little sluggish in the beginning of the game, but we definitely picked it up and played well,” McDermott said. “Last year, we lost to Sacred Heart in the FAA Tournament, so we hope the tables turn this time.”
Categories: Greenwich Country Day School, Winter sports
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