A team’s offense may come and go during the course of a basketball game, but it’s defensive intensity should be present throughout.
Greenwich’s second straight win — a 50-43 victory over the St. Joseph boys basketball team Friday night — was the result of a strong defensive effort that made the Cadets work long and hard for their shots.
On a night where points were hard to come by, especially during the first half, the Cardinals’ tight, man-to-man defense kept the game close while both squads struggled offensively.
“Our defensive intensity was there all night, we wanted it,” GHS first-year coach Phil D’Amato said. “Our leaders stepped up. We talked about leadership the other night and how everyone should be a leader on the floor and in the locker room and everyone showed it.”
Gavin Greene, St. Joseph’s talented sophomore forward, entered Friday’s matchup averaging a team-best 17 points per game. But the Cardinals made it difficult for the Cadets to get the ball to him in the low post and in areas where he can attack the basket. Greene finished with eight points, six of which came during the first half.
Senior forward/co-captain Matt Robins defended Greene during part of the game and junior forward Billy Nail came off the bench and sparked the team defensively, as he guarded Greene.
“Billy was physical on defense against their big guy,” D’Amato said. “Matt did a great job on him in the first half and Billy did a great job when he entered the game. We did a good job all night of contesting shots.”
Said Nail: “I just tried to be as physical as I could with him. He’s a young player, so he is going to be really good in two years.
Greenwich was also effective on the backboards, with junior 6-foot-6 forward Oliver Milledge leading the way with eight rebounds. Senior forward Mekhi Samb grabbed five rebounds, while senior guard co-captain Elias Gianopoulos pulled down four.
“Defensive intensity was key for us, the placed was pretty packed, so it was nice to get a win at home,” Robins said.
Robins also played a big role offensively for Greenwich, scoring a team-high 14 points — all of which came during the second half. He converted several runners in the lane and drove to the basket with the authority against St. Joseph’s trapping, 3-2 zone.
“That could be a tough shot to stop sometimes,” the 6-4 Robins said. “I’m long enough to get it over some bigs.”
Gianopoulos scored 11 points, including a 3-pointer and Nail added 10 with two shots from beyond the arc. Milledge (eight points) and senior guard Jackson Trimmer (seven points) also chipped in offensively for the Cards, who host a formidable Ridgefield team on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“Ridgefield is a strong, physical, talented team with one of the best players in the FCIAC,” D’Amato said. “We have to come out with intensity like we did against St. Joe and compete our hardest.”