Greenwich High girls basketball falls to Wilton in FCIAC semis

Greenwich High School junior Leight Galletta works the ball past her Wilton opponent during Tuesday night's FCIAC semifinal game. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Greenwich High School junior Leigh Galletta works the ball past her Wilton opponent during Tuesday night’s FCIAC semifinal game. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Although the Greenwich High School girls basketball team was able to cut its 12-point halftime deficit to four late in the third quarter, Wilton High School was just too tough down the stretch.

The Warriors were able to hold the Lady Cardinals scoreless throughout a five-minute span in the fourth quarter and Greenwich had no answer late, as Big Red fell 60-44 in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference semifinal game.

“Regardless of the outcome of this game, I am more than proud of these girls,” Greenwich High School head coach Chrys Hernandez said. “They’ve accomplished feats that the teams before them haven’t done. The seniors here never put their head’s down. We can’t be content just because we made it here this year. The goal is to hopefully make it back here in future years.”

Greenwich High sophomore Abbie Wolf looks to dish the ball under heavy pressure from Wilton during Tuesday night's FCIAC semifinals. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Greenwich High sophomore Abbie Wolf looks to dish the ball under heavy pressure from Wilton during Tuesday night’s FCIAC semifinals. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Dominating play throughout the game for Greenwich was Jaime Kockenmeister, as the junior finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

“Jaime has been steadfast all season,” Hernandez said. “She stepped up big again when our shooters weren’t getting their shots and our bigs weren’t finishing inside. She took it upon herself, got the ball and rebounded. She did her best to finish.”

Sophomore Abbie Wolf grabbed eight points and nine rebounds, while fellow sophomore Caroline Beneville added six points. Junior Leigh Galletta grabbed four points and junior Alexa Mones netted three points. Senior Rebecca DeCarlo rounded out the scoring for Big Red with two points.

For Wilton, no one had a better game than junior Erin Cunningham, as she led both teams in scoring with 22 points. Junior Erin Meyer grabbed 13 points and junior Haley English took home 11 points. Sophomore Erin Brosko added six points in the winning effort.

“What’s great is that this team has definitely improved, in that we don’t get complacent as long as we used to,” Wilton head coach Jaclyn Porco said. “It’s a great improvement and we ask more of them to get them to not be complacent.”

Trailing 31-19 at the break, as Cunningham drained a three-pointer as time expire in the first half, Greenwich mounted a furious comeback to start the third.

Kockenmeister went coast-to-coast to cut the lead to 31-21 with 7:20 left in the third. After Wilton buckets by MaKenna Persall and Christina Holmgren built the lead back up to 35-21, Moses hit a clutch baseline three for Big Red with less than six to play in the quarter.

After Meyer went 1-for-2 from the line, Greenwich went on a 6-0 run, as Kockenmeister hit the layup driving the lane, Wolf grabbed the offensive rebound and putback and Kockenmeister once again drove the lane for the bucket with three minutes to play in the third to make the score 36-32.

Although Cunningham stopped the bleeding for Wilton with a layup off a nice dish inside, Kockenmeister got the ball after Greenwich patiently worked the ball around the perimeter for the layup.

With 1:40 left in the third, Cunningham answered with a three-pointer, but 15 seconds later the Lady Cardinals came back as Beneville hit a baseline three-pointer to make the score 41-37.

“I told the girls that we had a lot more fight in us than we showed,” Hernandez said. “We needed to go back to our identity, which is defense. Defense is going to be able to give us our run. Basically I wanted to hold them and go up by 10 and we actually did that in the third quarter.”

However, that’s as close as Greenwich got, as Wilton went on a 15-2 run. Greenwich’s lone shot during the run was when Wolf fed Kockenmeister under the basket for the easy layup.

“We asked more of them on the court,” Porco said. “Each possession we had a plan already. It wasn’t to look at the coach and go from there. It was what we were going to do first and what we were going to do second and third. Defensively we switched every other possession to make them think, made them stay focused and be in the moment in the game.”

Wolf stopped the run by draining both her foul shots with 1:51 to play in the game, but by then it was 56-41 in favor of the Warriors.

“I told them that we weren’t allowed to walk out for the third time with a loss,” said Porco, who saw her team lose in the FCIAC semis the past two seasons. “It was not allowed and not to happen. That was approach and the tone was very direct.”

With 1:15 left, Beneville connected on a baseline three-pointer to finally give the Cards its first bucket since the 7:50 mark of the fourth.

“Give Wilton credit because they are a very good basketball team,” Hernandez said. “They’ve been here before and it’s not the first time they’ve been here. Experience was definitely on their side today. They stayed very poised in their defense and they definitely gave us some problems. I think our lack of experience showed and we got frazzled. We didn’t play our game.”

Although Greenwich saw its FCIAC tournament come to an end, Big Red still has some hoops to play. Starting Monday, the Lady Cardinals will be competing in the CIAC class LL tournament and will host a home game to start play. Brackets will be set on Friday.

“Our season isn’t over,” Hernandez said. “I told them to let this one sting a little bit, but to come back and get back to work. We still got States to get ready for. We need to break pressure better and handle pressure better. We’re going to work on that.”

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