Greenwich boys basketball finishes off Wilton in FCIAC quarterfinals

Greenwich High School junior Leonel Hyatt grabs the rebound during Saturday's FCIAC opening round game against Wilton High School. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Greenwich High School junior Leonel Hyatt grabs the rebound during Saturday’s FCIAC opening round game against Wilton High School. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Paced by a breakout performance by senior captain Tommy Povinelli, the Greenwich High School boys basketball team took care of Wilton High School in the opening round of the FCIAC tournament 70-62 earlier today at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.

“We feel great right now,” Greenwich High head coach Bill Brehm said. “We certainly will not rest. We are going to practice tomorrow, watch the Ridgefield tape, get ready for them. They are playing as good as any team right now. We won a tight one up there, which is a very tough place to play, so I’m sure they are going to try to get us back for that. We need to do what we need to do and go from there.”

With the victory, Greenwich advances to the FCIAC semifinal round and will play No. 3 seed Ridgefield High School, who beat Brien McMahon High School in the first quarterfinal game of the day.

Against Wilton in the quarters, Povinelli finished the first half scoring 11 of his 19 points in the first half and scored his final eight points in the third quarter.

“I was open and Leonel (Hyatt) did a great job kicking it out and so did Griffin Golden,” Povinelli said. “They left me open, so I thought I could knock it down. I was surprised, but coach told me to keep shooting. I did and they kept going in.”

Overall, Greenwich was led by senior captain CJ Byrd, who finished with 23 points. Not to be outdone was fellow senior captain Alex Wolf, who added 16 points. Junior Griffin Golden added seven points for Big Red.

“It’s a luxury to have Wolf inside and Byrd outside,” Brehm said. “It’s hard to stop both. And we have a stopper for the other team. We are now getting ready for Ridgefield on Tuesday and they obviously run a great motion-O and play a great man-to-man defense. It should be a good game.”

For Wilton, junior Matthew Shiffrin led the Warriors with 19 points. Senior Peter Ciaccio pitched in with 14 points and fellow senior Eric Houska added nine points. Both junior Richard Williams and junior Scott Shouvlin scored eight points.

“They are obviously a good team and CJ Byrd is probably the best player in the league,” Wilton head coach Joel Geriak said. “Their defense wears you down and the first time we played them, the same thing happened. We got a little lazy and a little tired and we didn’t make our shots. Stopping Alex Wolf is not an easy chore. He can stick his shot and jump.”

With several Big Red athletes in foul trouble early, Povinelli picked up the slack in a big way starting in the second quarter.

With less than two minutes to play in the first half and Greenwich leading 27-24, Big Red started pulling away, as Povinelli connected on a three-pointer as Wolf dished the ball out. After Williams hit two foul shots to cut into the lead, Povinelli hit another three-pointer. Golden hit one of his two foul shots and and Povinelli connected on both his foul shots with less than 10 seconds to play to make the halftime score 35-27.

“Luckily today (Povinelli) stepped up and was ripping the nets,” Brehm said. “Because we had a little bit of foul trouble going on, I had to sit our big guys a little bit. He stepped up for us and was hitting shot. If he doesn’t step up and hit shots, then he finds someone that will. Tonight he was huge for us.”

Big Red started the second half in grand style, as Golden grabbed the offensive rebound and putback. After the Warriors and Cardinals exchanged buckets early in the third, Greenwich pulled away midway through the quarter.

Povinelli hit a baseline three and then he connected on two foul shots during his next time with the ball. After Houska hit two free throws to make Greenwich’s lead 44-35, Greenwich’s Palmer was fouled and went 1-for-2 from the line with 4:39 left in the third.

Another baseline three-pointer by Povinelli started a 9-0 run, as Byrd hit two free throws and dunked off Greenwich’s next possession. Patrick Santini got into the act as Povinelli got the steal and passed to Santini under the basket to make the score 54-36 with 1:09 left in the third.

With the victory, Greenwich advances to the FCIAC semifinal game Tuesday night against Ridgefield High School. The game will be played at Fairfield Warde High School.

To read more on the FCIAC opening round victory against Wilton, check later tonight.


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