BRIDGEPORT >> It may end up being one of the ugliest basketball teams between two top 5 teams in the history of big games among Connecticut teams.
No. 3 Greenwich and No. 4 Bridgeport Central combined for 40 points and 21 turnovers in the first half. Central at one point missed 15 straight shots. So no, it wasn’t boys basketball in the Nutmeg State at its finest in the Park City Tuesday night.
But once Central turned up the defensive pressure to start the fourth quarter, the hosts were able to pull ahead and win 53-45, handing Greenwich its first loss.
“It was the worst offensive exhibition that I can remember,” Bridgeport Central coach Barry McLeod said. “It was also one of the better turnarounds we have had.”
This is the first loss for Greenwich (14-1). Westbrook also suffered its first loss Tuesday, leaving top-ranked Fairfield Prep as the state’s only undefeated team.
Central (14-1) forced three straight turnovers early in the fourth quarter. All three resulted in easy baskets that put the Hilltoppers ahead to stay, 41-36. Greenwich cut it to 41-40 before Central scored six more points, making it 47-40 and forcing Greenwich coach Bill Brehm to call the Cardinals’ first timeout of the final quarter.
“We have a senior-laden team as well (as Central). I thought we would play our way through it,” Greenwich coach Bill Brehm said. “Maybe I should’ve called a timeout a little earlier, who knows.”
Greenwich never got within four points thereafter. The 14-0 start was the best in school history.
Central managed to win despite missing 18 free throws (12 of 30).
“You make half of those, which still isn’t good, you are looking at a 20-point game,” McLeod said.
Greenwich’s zone defense forced a lot of quick shots early on. The low-scoring, ugly affair actually favored Greenwich’s tempo. And McLeod was none too happy about it at halftime.
“Coach was not happy with us, I can tell you that much,” said Central guard Tyler Ancrum, who had a team-high 17 points. “There was a lot of cursing and a lot of slamming and all that, but he is a very good coach and he knows what he was doing.”
But as Brehm noted twice after the game, Central, which trailed by as many as 10 points, had 36 offensive rebounds. And that was with Greenwich’s 6-foot-10 center, Alex Wolf, lurking in the paint.
Wolf finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds, but more than half of those totals came in the fourth quarter. C.J. Byrd finished with 17 points to lead Greenwich.
“Even when we got some rebounds, they hit it out of our hands,” Brehm said. “Against their 2-2-1 (full-court press), we threw the ball away too much. We go against the 2-2-1 every single day in practice, but it is so hard to recreate what Central does, their quickness, experience and rotation.”
Said McLeod: “We are playing nine guys, so most of our guys were fresh at the end. (Wolf) does everything for them. He’s the focal point of their offense, he offensive and defensive rebounds, he triggers everything for them. Maybe he got a little winded, I don’t know.”
BRIDGEPORT CENTRAL 53, GREENWICH 45
Greenwich 9 15 10 11 – 45
Bridgeport Central 6 10 18 19 – 53
Griffen Golden 2 0-2 5, C.J. Byrd 4 9-10 17, Kyle Foote 0 1-2 1, Alex Wolf 3 7-10 13, Tom Povinelli 1 2-2 4, Leonel Hyatt 0 1-4 1, Pat Santini 2 0-2 4. Totals: 12 20-32 45
BRIDGEPORT CENTRAL (53)
tyler Ancrum 4 7-15 17, Marcus Blackwell 6 0-2 13, Shaquan Bretox 2 2-6 6, Orhan Cecujanin 2 0-1 4, Dondre Daniels 2 1-2 5, Ricky Grant 1 0-0 2, Antwan Pettway 2 2-4 6. Totals: 19 12-30 53
3-point goals: Greenwich 1 (Golden 1); Bridgeport Central 3 (Ancrum 2, Blackwell 1); Fouled out: Greenwich (Povinelli); Records: Greenwich 14-1; Bridgeport Central 14-1