With the season nearly at its halfway point, the Greenwich boys basketball team has displayed some positive signs, while exhibiting areas it needs to improve upon.
Tuesday’s game against visiting Ridgefield provided examples of what the Cardinals must work on to qualify for the postseason.
Like the Tigers, the Cardinals are an athletic squad that plays tough, man-to-man defense; they have pretty good height at the forward and center positions. Yet inconsistent shooting from the perimeter and foul line plagued Greenwich in its 54-33 loss to Ridgefield on Tuesday.
Trailing 26-17 at halftime, Greenwich (4-5) made only 11 shots from the floor for the game and converted just 10 of its 22 free throw attempts. Those subpar numbers enabled Ridgefield, led by senior forward Brendan McNamara (13 points) and junior guard James St. Pierre (game-high 17 points) to pull away during the second half.
“Offensively, it was tough for us to get going,” GHS first-year coach Phil D’Amato said. “The shots weren’t falling and we missed a couple of layups, which limited us. It was tough for us to get into a rhythm offensively. Ridgefield plays great man-to-man defense and they always seem to be in the right spot.”
With junior center Oliver Milledge (6-foot-6), senior forward Matt Robins (6-4) and senior forward Mekhi Samb (6-3) in the starting lineup, the Cards have a low-post presence, length and size. Seniors Elias Gianopoulos and Jackson Trimmer have helped solidify the backcourt while junior 6-2 forward Billy Nail has been one of the team’s main players off the bench.
But improving its offensive production is key for Greenwich, which has to start making more of its mid-range jump shots from the perimeter and 3-point attempts.
“We have the pieces, but we still haven’t had a full game where we have put it all together,” D’Amato said. “It can’t wait to see that, because then we’ll really be a tough team to beat. We are getting open shots, we just have to finish those open opportunities.”
Leaning on its defensive play, Greenwich has allowed more than 60 points in just three of its first nine games. They have limited the opposition to less than 45 points in four of their matchups.
“Defense is our strength and we have to play well defensively every game from now on,” said Milledge, who scored 11 points against Ridgefield. “We look at every game from now on as a must-win game.”
Greenwich is 4-2 in FCIAC play heading into a portion of its schedule that has them facing formidable conference foes. After visiting Staples (1-7, 0-5) on Friday, the Cards will travel to Stamford (5-3, 3-2) on Tuesday, before hosting Norwalk (4-3, 3-1) and Trumbull (8-1, 5-1). They also still have to play Danbury (8-1, 5-1), Fairfield Warde (6-2, 5-0) and Bassick (6-1) on the road.
“We are coming into a tough stretch of the season where we are on the road a lot,” D’Amato said. “We’ve had five of the last seven games at home and we took care of business with some games we should have won. Now we have a tough go of it on the road and guys have to come out and play hard every possession.”
RIDGEFIELD 54, GREENWICH 33
Christopher Knachel 2 1-2 5; Brendan McNamara 3 6-7 13; Jackson Mitchell 2 1-1 5; Alex Price 3 0-1 7; James St. Pierre 7 2-2 18; Ryan Malley 1 0-0 2; Weston Carpenter 1 0-0 2; Cameron Andry 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 10-13 54.
Mekhi Samb 0 0-4 0; Elias Gianopoulos 2 3-7 8; Matt Robins 1 5-6 7; Jackson Trimmer 1 0-1 2; Billy Nail 2 1-2 5; Oliver Milledge 5 1-2 11. Totals: 11 10-22 33.