GREENWICH — Julia Conforti helped the Greenwich High School girls basketball team start strong, then finish with a flurry in its matchup against Danbury on Monday night.
Conforti scored nine first-quarter points, enabling the Cardinals to build a double-digit lead, then after the Hatters made it a tight game, the senior forward poured in seven fourth-quarter points.
The result? Greenwich notched a key, 55-47 FCIAC win over Danbury at Brunswick School.
With the triumph, Greenwich raised its record to 10-5 overall and 7-4 in the FCIAC. The Cardinals entered the matchup tied for sixth place in the FCIAC, as they try to gain a berth in the eight-team conference tournament. Conforti, a senior forward/tri-captain, scored 16 points, while freshman forward Mackenzie Nelson tallied 19 points to lead the Cardinals.
“We were moving the ball really well on offense and that enabled me to get more open shots and drive to the basket,” said Conforti, whose 16 points were a season-high. It was definitely an overall team effort, everyone contributed.”
Greenwich held a 19-8 lead following the first quarter, but was ahead by just one point (28-27) at halftime. Danbury (10-4, 8-3 FCIAC) was paced by sophomore guard Chloe Perreault’s 13 points, and 11 points from sophomore guard Tenley Wallin. Senior forward/center Tianna Rogers added nine points for the Hatters, who took the lead in the third quarter, capitalizing on second and third shots, by crashing the offensive backboards.
“We spent a lot of energy in making our comeback,” Danbury coach Jackie DiNardo said. “I didn’t get a chance to use a lot of subs like I usually do, it was tough. Greenwich played well, they shoot well and they did a good job. They were driving to the basket in the first half, because we weren’t moving our feet.”
Leading 36-24 after three quarters, GHS extended its lead when Conforti made a floater from the baseline, then converted a layup while being fouled. She made the ensuing foul shot, giving the Cardinals a 41-34 lead with 7:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Hatters closed to within 41-38 on a basket in the low post by Rogers and a layup by Perreault. Yet the Cards brought their advantage back up to seven points on consecutive 3-pointers from sophomore guard Kristin Riggs.
“I think the key was not getting down,” said Riggs, who efficiently ran the offense from her point guard position. “We kind of fell behind in the second half, but we all believe in each other and feel that we can bring it back together. They were a tough team, but we needed this win and worked hard.”
Added Conforti: “We started getting flustered at first, but we kept our composure, locked down on their post players and came out with the victory.”
Four free throws from Nelson during the final two minutes of action sealed the Cardinals second straight win.
“Like a lot of our wins, that was a team win,” GHS coach Chrys Hernandez said. “When everyone steps up and contributes, we look like a contender.”
Conforti scored nine of Greenwich’s first 11 points. Her layup off a steal and 3-pointer from the left corner, gave the Cardinals an 11-2 edge at the 4:40 mark of the opening quarter.
Senior Ciara Munnelly’s basket off a well-executed pump fake made it 13-2. The Hatters got back into the game, courtesy of Perreault, Rogers and Wallin. Rogers scored off a strong low-post move and Wallin swished a free throw, giving Danbury its first lead at 27-25 with 39.1 seconds left in the second quarter.
“We came out a little slow and we needed to get into our groove and understand their defense,” Perreault said. “We definitely could have won, we were up, we just started to get tired and let them back in it.”
Greenwich, which used a full-court press and man-to-man defense, went into halftime with a 28-27 lead after Nelson made a 3-pointer from the right wing in the final seconds of the second quarter. The Cards took the lead for good at 36-34 on Nelson’s pull-up jump shot, following a steal, with 40 seconds to go in the third quarter. Riggs added 10 points, Munnelly scored four points and sophomore forward Kayla Anderson had four points for the victors.
“That was a really important, because beating one of the top teams is a great thing to do, overall,” Nelson said. “We should have beaten more of those top teams, we lost a few of those, but it’s good to get this win.”
Sophomore forward Amari Edwards contributed seven points for Danbury, which played a 2-3 zone most of the game. Greenwich received solid play off the bench from senior guard Jordan Moses and sophomore Kelly Martyanov in the second half.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Conforti was key with her season-best 16 points, all of which came in bunches, sparking pivotal spurts.
“Julia is capable of that type of play every single night,” Hernandez said. “She did a great job of being a senior captain tonight and finishing at the basket. She came up big for us in key moments.”
Nelson was consistent throughout, scoring nine points in the first half and 10 in the second half.
“This was a great game,” Nelson said. “We stayed together and made the extra pass, which kept our offense going. Julia (Conforti) finished strong, she had a really great game.”
“We are young, we have four sophomores out there most of the time,” DiNardo said. “It was a good comeback, we just have to finish.”
Said Hernandez: “Tonight’s focus was getting one step closer in attaining a position for the FCIAC race. The FCIAC standings is really tight and our goal is to make it to states and FCIACs. We haven’t done both of those things in a couple of years.”
GREENWICH 55, DANBURY 47
DANBURY 8 19 7 13 – 47
GREENWICH 19 9 8 19 – 55
Tianna Rogers 4 1-2 9; Chloe Perreault 5 2-2 13; Viviana Flores 1 0-0 3; Tanisha Cunningham 2 0-0 4; Tenley Wallin 4 3-4 11; Amari Edwards 3 1-2 7. Totals: 19 7-10 47.
Ava Sollenne 0 0-0 0; Julia Conforti 7 1-1 16; Jordan Moses 0 0-0 0; Ciara Munnelly 2 0-0 4; Bea Owens 0 0-0 0; Kristin Riggs 3 2-2 10; Kate Loughran 0 0-0 0; Kelly Martyanov 1 0-0 2; Kayla Anderson 1 2-2 4; Mackenzie Nelson 6 6-7 19. Totals: 20 11-12 55.