Greenwich girls end regular season on winning note, beat THS 32, 29

Greenwich High School senior captain Rebecca DeCarlo looks for the open Cardinal during a recent game at the GHS gym. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School senior captain Rebecca DeCarlo looks for the open Cardinal during a recent game at the GHS gym. — John Ferris Robben photo

In a battle of two teams tied for seventh place overall in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, it was the Greenwich High School girls basketball team that was able to leave senior night with the hard-fought 32-29 victory over Trumbull High School earlier today.

“It was a huge game,” Greenwich High head coach Chrys Hernandez said. “They whole playoff race has been great. Any game could mean the difference between two seeding spots. We knew the importance of it coming in. We gave up a little bit of our advantage with the loss to Stamford, but we knew coming in that this was a huge game. Trumbull was jockeying for the same spots that we were and knew it would be a grudge match.”

Greenwich was led by junior Jaime Kockenmeister, who finished with a game-high 12 points. She also added seven rebounds. Sophomore Abbie Wolf chipped in with eight points and added eight rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals. Junior Leigh Galletta added four points, two steals and one assists. Senior Rebecca DeCarlo also was strong on the boards, grabbing six rebounds.

They had a lot of energy,” Hernandez said. “Since it was senior night, they wanted to send the seniors off well and I think the energy propelled them. I also think the loss to Stamford motivated them. We didn’t have practice yesterday because of the snow day, and I was concerned about that on my end, but my captains got them together and got some gym time for the team.”

For Trumbull, junior Amanda Pfohl led the way with eight points, but was sidelined in the second half with a nose injury. The duo of senior Rachel Carron and junior Danielle McGillicuddy added five points, while junior Kalisse Eldridge and senior Joyce Woolen added four points.

“Both teams wanted to finish the regular season with a win and both teams are still in FCIACs, which is great, but Greenwich is a fantastic team,” Trumbull head coach Steve Tobitsch said. “We wanted it, they wanted it and they just had a few more points at the end of 32 minutes tonight. We told the girls that the focus we had when we won the other game this year is what we have to come out with on Saturday. We need to play a little smarter than we played tonight.”

Midway into the fourth quarter, the Eagles build four-point lead, as senior Maggie Parisi connected on a long jumper and McGillicuddy netted a layoff off a steal. However, Greenwich came storming back, courtesy of Kockenmeister.

With 4:46 to play, Kockenmeister hit a layup in the lane and nearly a minute later was fouled and still connected on the layup. After converting the old-fashion three-pointer, GHS was up 28-27.

From there, Big Red wouldn’t give up the lead the rest of the way.

“This was a grudge match and it came down to who wanted it more,” Hernandez said. “Defense was the difference for both teams. It was the lowest scoring game we had all season. Our defense was huge and we knew that [Pfohl] was a shooter. We wanted to come out and shut her down and slow her down in transition.”

After Trumbull took the early 8-5 lead with 1:07 left in the opening quarter, Greenwich responded when sophomore Caroline Beneville hit the baseline jumper and Galletta scored off the perfectly-placed dish from Kockenmeister with mere seconds left to make the score 9-8 in favor of the Lady Cards.

Greenwich’s lead didn’t last long, as Pfohl started the second drilling a three-pointer from the top of the key. After Kockenmeister answered with a layup underneath, Woolen hit the turnaround jumper to make the score 13-11 with 4:43 left in the half. Shortly after, Pfohl struck again, as she hit the runner in the lane to make the score 15-11.

Keeping the Eagles in the game throughout the first half was Pfohl. However, with time running down in the first half, Pfohl took a hard shot to her nose and was sidelined the rest of the game.

“It’s huge,” Tobitsch said. “Obviously she’s one of our emotional leaders and is one of the top scorers on our team, but I was really proud of the girls that did stay on the court. We came back and had a lead in the fourth. We just let it slip away a little bit. The other girls stepped up, but it was definitely a blow for us. The girls kept their head in it and had an opportunity at the end.”

With Big Red leading 20-17, DeCarlo came off the bench and sparked the squad by pushing the tempo down the court and connecting on a jumper from the free throw line that gave Greenwich the 22-17 lead with less than four minutes to play in the third.

“Trumbull is definitely a tough team to play,” DeCarlo said. “We expected them to push us and we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. We had to stay calm and stay together as a team. We all played as a team and it showed.”

With the victory, Greenwich jumped ahead of Fairfield Ludlowe High School, as the Falcons lost earlier tonight to Danbury High School 57-42. Since Greenwich upended Fairfield Ludlowe earlier in the season, Big Red picked up the tiebreaker and advanced to the No. 6 seed of the FCIAC tourney.

“It is really exciting to be in the FCIACs,” DeCarlo said. “Last year we came pretty close, but we didn’t make it to FCIACs. This year to actually accomplish that is amazing. The coaches really pushed us hard in practice and everything we worked on in the offseason and during the season has really paid off. We got to our goals.”

The Cards will take its 13-5 regular season record and battle No. 3 seed Westhill High School Saturday at noon.

“There’s no easy team and no guaranteed win in the playoffs,” said Hernandez, talking about the upcoming FCIAC tournament. “Every team is as difficult as the next. But I think we are in a good place and we came a long way in challenging our mental toughness. I am beyond proud of this team. I have no words. We accomplished a goal that we set from the very first day I came here, to not only make States but to make FCIACs as well.”

With the loss, Trumbull fell to the No. 8 seed and will battle top-seeded Danbury High School at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

 

 

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