GREENWICH — Possessing a significant amount of depth, the Sacred Heart Greenwich basketball team has numerous players who can provide an offensive spark.
Wednesday, the team’s eighth-graders rose to the occasion for the Tigers.
Eighth-grader Payton Sfreddo scored a game-high 19 points, while classmate Madison Hart added eight points in host Sacred Heart’s decisive 66-31 win over FAA rival Greenwich Academy.
The Tigers’ second straight victory moved their record to 2-0 in the FAA and 2-3 overall. Sfreddo and Hart paced the Tigers’ offense with their outside shooting and ability to drive to the basket.
“We have a really deep bench and everyone can go in and play hard, that’s been key for us,” Sfreddo, who like Hart, is in her first season on the squad. “When substitutes are in, our play doesn’t decline, we keep the points up.”
Greenwich Academy (0-5, 0-2 FAA) received a lift from guard Francesca Sileo, who reached a special milestone on Wednesday.
Sileo reached and eclipsed the 1,000 career point plateau during the second quarter. Needing nine points to reach the 1,000-point mark, Sileo’s 3-pointer from the top of the key was her ninth point of the game. She finished the matchup with 12 points, giving her 1,003 for her career.
“It felt good, I’ve been playing varsity basketball since eighth grade at my old school (Port Chester),” said Sileo, who is in her fourth season on the GA squad. “I’ve been working hard 12 months out of the year, so it feels good to finally get it.”
Sophomore guard/forward Franny O’Brien scored eight points, while sophomore center Sarah Augustine and Caitlyn Petrizzo each tallied seven points for the victors.
Eight points from Sfreddo in the first quarter helped give the Tigers a 23-9 advantage heading into the second quarter. Augustine’s basket in the low post, followed by Sfreddo’s 3-pointer from the left corner made it 23-9.
Sacred Heart displayed solid ball movement against GA’s zone and man-to-man defense throughout.
“We are improving every game and getting less sloppy each game,” Sfreddo said.
Trailing 28-9, the Gators went on an 8-0 run to close to within 28-17. Junior forward Sofia Gianuzzi’s basket followed by consecutive 3-pointers from Sileo cut the Tigers’ lead to 11 points, but that’s the closest the visitors got. Sileo’s third 3-pointer of the game gave her 1,000 points, a mark she got with Port Chester (one season) and Greenwich Academy (four seasons).
“I think we’re definitely improving,” Sileo said. “Our effort is there, the skill is not there yet, but it will come. We need to work on some things, like not panicking and spacing.”
Sileo scored nine first-half points for the Gators.
Ahead 31-17 at halftime, Sacred Heart widened its advantage to 48-24 after the third quarter. Senior guard Leah Atkins and junior guard Alana Frederick had five points apiece, while senior forward Morgan Smith added four points and strong defensive play in the winning effort. Izzy Rosales had six points for GA.
Hart, the coach’s daughter, scored seven first-half points for the victors.
“We got a lot of steals, which helped us,” Hart said. “Our coach’s main goal is defense. We have to have quick feet and cause a lot of turnovers, which is our focus every game.”
Indeed, Hart and Sfreddo are enjoying their first season on the team as eighth-graders.
“It is a great environment, everyone is outgoing and it’s really fun,” Hart said. “It is a great community.”
Said Tigers coach Ayo Hart: “Our defensive play and ball-movement is what I’m really impressed with. Our experienced players have helped open up scoring opportunities for our younger players.”