The Greenwich High School boys basketball team resumed action yesterday when they hosted Trumbull High School. The game against the Eagles took place six days after the team last played a game and for head coach Bill Brehm and the rest of the Cardinals, the bye week came at a perfect time.
“I think we have the talent, but we need to put it together and play together,” Brehm said. “We need to get everybody on the court playing together and right now that’s not happening. We have the puzzle pieces, but we haven’t fit them together the way they need to be. We are working hard, but it’s nice to have that bye this week to get ready for the last five games of the season.”
The Cardinals currently are sitting 8-8 on the season overall and are 7-7 in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Leading up to this week’s bye, Big Red lost three of its past four games. Against Bridgeport Central, Greenwich fell 73-65 and they ended last week with a 64-44 loss to Westhill.
With Greenwich’s win over Trumbull High School last night, Big Red picked up its eighth win and qualified for the CIAC class LL postseason. However the FCIAC tournament might be a little more difficult.
Currently Greenwich’s 7-7 conference record puts them tied with both Fairfield Ludlowe and Bsskcik high schools for ninth in a league where the top eight teams qualify for the tourney. Although they are on the outside looking in, Greenwich still has a solid chance and joining the playoff mix. Norwalk High School is sixth in the conference with a 10-5 FCIAC record, while Staples is in seventh place in the conference with an 9-5 record. Wilton High Schools currently has the final playoff spot with a 7-6 FCIAC record.
On the other side of the ball, both New Canaan (5-9) and Harding (5-9) are still in the mix, fighting for that final few playoff spots.
Brehm said that the bye week came at a great time in the season, as the injuries and sicknesses were starting to pile up. Throw into the mix that Greenwich will be without big man Alex Wolf due to a coach’s decision and the time practicing becomes valuable.
“I think with the bye week coming right now and with Wolf not being available for the next several games, it’s good that we can work on doing some other things offensively and defensively, knowing that we’re not going to have him. The bye gives us a few practices to do that. It allows other people to step up and other people to hopefully develop so that we don’t have to rely on Alex all the time for getting all the rebounds.”
Helping Big Red fill the void that Wolf left will be the group of Alex McMurray, C.J. Byrd, Jim Djema and Danny Guise.
“We have to practice as hard as we have from the start of the season,” McMurray said. “We have a lot of really important games coming up and if we win the rest of our games, we can really do some damage. But in order to do that, we need to work hard.”
In order to get through the final stretch of the season and qualify for both an FCIAC and class LL playoff berth, Brehm believes that the team needs to stop playing selfish basketball and tighten up its defense. When it comes to defense, Brehm said that McMurray has been leading the way throughout the year, while Djema had been a true team player on the court.
“We need to be unselfish,” Brehm said. “We have a lot of scorers on the team and we need to be patient offensively. Other teams scout us and know who our main scorers are. Our main scorers need to start games in unselfish manners, so that way our other scorers can draw defenders. That will then open up our main scorers.”
“We need to play more like a team,” McMurray said. “We are kind of playing for ourselves right now. We just need to play together and get the chemistry back that we had at the beginning of the season.”
So far, so good for the Cardinals. Playing in their first game back from the bye yesterday against Trumbull High School, Big Red dominated play, taking a double-digit lead into the half and cruising to a 72-41 victory.
McMurray finished the game with 16 points, while Byrd ended the game with 15 points. Djema netted 12 points and Mike Ellsworth finished with six. Johnathan Palmer contributed with five.
With the victory, Greenwich netted its eighth win of the season, which means that Big Red will be representing the FCIAC in the class LL postseason.