GREENWICH — Trailing St. Joseph late in the third quarter in a tight, back-and-forth game, the Greenwich High School boys basketball team needed someone to step up and give the squad an offensive spark.
Matt Robins rose to the important occasion.
The senior 6-foot-4 forward scored all 14 of his points during the second half, eight of which came during the fourth quarter, in Greenwich’s tough 50-43 win over upset-minded St. Joseph in an FCIAC matchup on Friday night.
With their second straight victory, the Cardinals evened their overall record to 4-4 and improved their FCIAC mark to 4-1. Senior guard Elias Gianopoulos added 11 points, while junior forward Billy Nail came off the bench and contributed 10 clutch points.
The visiting Cadets, who have dropped several close decisions this season fell to 0-7 on the season. Junior guard Ace Luzietti had 12 points, including three 3-pointers and sophomore forward Gavin Green tallied eight points for St. Joseph, which trailed 19-15 at halftime, then lead 35-33 after three quarters.
Robins began his scoring surge with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter, as his short jump shot cut the Cadets’ lead to 30-29. After Brendan Kade’s 3-pointer gave St. Joseph a 33-29 advantage, baskets from center Oliver Milledge and Robins tied the score at 33-33 with 1:05 to go in the third quarter.
“We moved him (Robins) from the baseline and put him in a great spot to be successful and he did that,” GHS coach Phil D’Amato said. “He attacked very well, I’m very happy with how he played.”
Robins’ runner in the lane and left-handed layup gave the Cardinals a 37-35 lead at the 6:09 mark of the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Jared Grindrod converted a 3-pointer from the right side, giving the visitors a 38-37 lead with 5:50 left to play. But Nail swished a 3-pointer from the right corner and Robins made a fastbreak layup, giving GHS the lead for good at 42-38 with 2:51 remaining.
“I felt they were leaving me open, so when I saw the holes I started attacking,” said Robins, a co-captain. “When I got the first two points, I just kept attacking and I started scoring.”
St. Joseph made it difficult for Greenwich to get into rhythm offensively, especially in the opening half. The Cadets played a trapping 3-2 zone and pressured the Cardinals’ guards up high.
“With our 3-2 trap we tried to turn them over, which they did at times,” Cadets coach Paul Dudzinski said. “We were trying to wear them out, but they made some fantastic adjustments. We also played a little 1-3-1 zone and tried to trap all four corners, but they started getting the ball to the middle.”
Said D’Amato: “At times, the trap was beating the ball to the sideline, they had three guys on the sideline. Their trap was intense, but we only turned it over four times in the second half.”
Luzietti enabled St. Joseph to take the lead in the third quarter, scoring 11 of his 12 points, including a trio of 3-pointers against Greenwich’s man-to-man defense.
“Ace made some shots; we can shoot the ball a little bit,” Dudzinski said. “These were two teams battling to get a win. We were trying to get it inside to Gavin, but they were double and triple-teaming him.”
Robins drew the assignment of guarding Greene, the Cadets’ leading scorer during parts of the game, while Nail defended him when he came off the bench.
“I just tried to be as physical as I could with him,” Nail said of defending Greene. “He’s a young player, so he’s going to be really good in a couple of years. Getting to 4-1 in the FCIAC with this win is huge. I feel we are getting better each night.”
The 6-6 Milledge registered eight points and eight rebounds, while senior forward Mekhi Samb grabbed five rebounds for the Cardinals. Senior guard Jackson Trimmer contributed seven points, including a key layup down the stretch for the victors.
“Our defensive intensity was there all night,” D’Amato said. “It was a great defensive effort.”
Grindrod had seven points for St. Joseph, which plays Trumbull on Saturday.
“We are a young team that’s trying to find our way,” Dudzinski said. “Our guys played hard, they just made more plays at the end to come away with the victory.”
Greenwich host Ridgefield Tuesday at 7 p.m.
GREENWICH 50, ST. JOSEPH 43
ST. JOSEPH 5 10 20 8 — 43
GREENWICH 8 11 14 17 — 50
ST. JOSEPH (43)
Ace Luzietti 4 1-2 12; Jared Grindrod 2 2-2 7; Dan Tobin 0 0-0 0; Paul Fabbri 2 0-0 4; Brendan Kade 2 0-0 6; Ian Argento 2 0-0 4; Gavin Greene 4 0-2 8; Brian Dineen 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 3-6 43.
Elias Gianopoulos 3 4-6 11; Matt Robins 7 0-1 14; Jackson Trimmer 3 0-0 7; Billy Nail 3 2-3 10; Oliver Milledge 4 0-0 8; Gavin Muir 0 0-0 0; Chris Genaro 0 0-0 0; Mekhi Samb 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 6-10 50.
3-pointers: SJ — Luzietti 3, Kade 2, Grindrod; G — Nail 2, Gianopoulos, Trimmer.
Records: Greenwich 4-4; St. Joseph 0-7