Greenwich girls basketball blasts Bristol Central in CIAC class LL opener

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

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

What a difference a year makes for the Greenwich High School girls basketball team.

Instead of driving close to 90 minutes for a game in the opening round of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL tournament, Big Red got to enjoy the friendly confines of GHS for the opening round this season.

Feeding off its home crowd, the No. 13 Lady Cardinals got off to a quick start against No. 20 seed Bristol Central High School and never looked back, beating Bristol 45-28 and advancing to Thursday’s second round.

“It was not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination, but we came out with the win and at the end of the day that is the most important thing,” GHS head coach Chrys Hernandez said. “We just told the girls that it wasn’t a championship effort and that’s what we are striving for. We want to be a championship team.”

Greenwich was led by Abbie Wolf, who finished with a team-high 11 points.

“We really wanted this game,” Wolf said. “Last year we were in Bristol Central’s position and it wasn’t fun. This year we came out as the higher seed and didn’t allow them to give us a scare. We had a good lead the whole game and stayed strong. Although we didn’t capitalize on a lot of our layups, we were able to get them because we moved the ball around well, distributed and everybody contributed.”

Jaime Kockenmeister added nine points, while the duo of Caroline Beneville and Alexa Moses each added seven points. Leigh Galletta netted four points for the victors.

“We’ve been Bristol Central’s shoes,” Kockenmeister said. “We’ve had that two hour drive and a heartbreaking loss. To be on this end is a much better feeling than it was last year. I thought our defense really was solid and that helped our offense. We got a lot of steals.”

For Bristol Central, Chandler Walker led the team with eight points, while teammate Christina Bolovier added seven point.

While Greenwich was able to stifle Bristol Central’s offense throughout the game, Big Red was barely able to take advantage, as the Lady Cards missed several layups under the basket and a few jumpers around the paint.

While Hernandez was less than pleased with her team’s performance offensively, Greenwich was solid on the defensive side of the ball. Kockenmeister finished with 11 rebounds, while Wolf grabbed nine boards and Galletta added three rebounds.

“On defense I thought we were very aggressive,” Wolf said. “We got a lot of traps and we tried to contest a lot of shots and get the block. It worked really well.”

Galletta and Kockenmeister each added four assists and three steals, while Wolf set the pace with three assists and six blocks.

“Defensive effort was amazing,” Hernandez said. “We did a really good job running a couple of defensive sets that we haven’t run in a while. They did a really good job with that and forced a lot of turnovers. We just need to finish at the other end.”

With the victory, Greenwich High School advances to the second round of the class LL tournament and will travel up to South Windsor for a game against South Windsor High School Thursday at 7.

It’s another long bus ride, however this time the Cardinals have a much different attitude towards the game, as well as a higher level of confidence.

Last year at this time Lady Cardinals were thrilled finally qualify for the CIAC class LL tournament. As the No. 24 seed, Big Red boarded the bus and took the 90 minute ride to Storrs and battled No. 9 seed E.O. Smith.

The long bus ride felt even longer on the way home, as Greenwich ended its season with a hard-fought 44-39 loss to the Panthers.

“It’s another step, but we can’t be content with that step,” Hernandez said. “We have made it to FCIACs and made it to States. Thursday is going to be a test. It’s a matter of being able to compete with higher-level teams and not just being happy being here. We have to put the ball in the basket and finish.”

“A win is a win,” Alexa Moses said. “It was a sloppy win, but we will take it. It’s definitely a better feeling than our first round game last year. We lost by five points and we really didn’t want to get back on that bus and drive home. That was a long bus ride home. We took that feeling to heart for tonight’s game and really pushed to not feel that way again.”

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