Greenwich High boys basketball falls behind to St. Joseph early, loses 62-54

The Greenwich High School boys basketball team fell behind big to St. Joseph High School earlier tonight on several occasions. Although down, Big Red wasn’t out, as they clawed their way back several times and were a bucket away from tying the game a few times.

However, committing 28 turnovers and poor shot selections plagued the Cards all game, as the Cadets were able to hold on for a 62-54 victory in a key Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference match-up.

“We basically spotted them 17 points in the beginning of the game and you just can’t do that,” Greenwich head coach Bill Brehm said. “We still came back and cut it to two. You got to love the heart in the kids to stay with it. Mentally we weren’t ready to play, but intensity-wise we were ready to play and I think we made some really poor decisions. The number one key to the game for us was to keep our composure and I don’t think we did that in the first five minutes of the game.”

 

Alex Wolf had a strong game for Big Red, finishing with a team-high 20 points and 19 rebounds. He also added two blocks. Alex McMurray added 17 points and two assists, while C.J. Byrd contributed with nine points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. Jim Djeima added eight points and Jeonel Hyatt finished with eight boards.

“Alex brought us some energy tonight,” Brehm said. “He had 19 rebounds and that was huge for us. I thought we did a nice job trying to get him the ball in the post. He got it a few times but a couple of times we tried too hard some times to get him the ball and that led to a turnover. We got to work on that and need to swing the ball a little bit and not be so ready to get it to him in the post the first time we come over the half court line.”

The Cadets were led by Quincy McKnight, who finished with a game-high 23 points and added seven steals and six assists. Jon Dzurenda added 21 points, while Raekwon Reid finished with seven points. Erick Langston was St. Joe’s go-to person on the boards, grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds. Steve Hashemi pitched in with four blocks on the night.

While St. Joe’s was thrilled with the offensive output against Big Red, head coach Chris Watt liked his team’s defensive strategy.

“Coming into this game we wanted to apply a lot of pressure on the guards,” Watts said. “I think that’s more of our game. We forced them to turn it over, but we wanted our bigger guys to rotate better and come in to make some steals. I think we were able to do that tonight. We would have liked to turn those turnovers we got into points. We got a couple, but we made some steals and gave it right back to them. Moving forward, that’s something we need to work on.”

Heading into the final quarter, Big Red was trailing by eight, but cut into the lead by starting the fourth on a 6-2 run. Byrd connected on a floater in the lane to make the score 49-41, but back-to-back free throws by Wolf and McMurray and Big Red was only down 49-45 with 4:36 to play.

Dzurenda came up huge a minute later, calmly draining a baseline three-pointer to extend the lead back to 52-45, however Greenwich didn’t back down. With 3:04 to play, Wolf went hard to the basket, made his shot and was fouled. He converted the old-fashion three-point play and with 2:29 to play, Wolf netted another layup off his own rebound to make the score 52-50.

However that’s as close as Greenwich would get, as McKnight took over, forcing two steals and netting four points to close out the game. Dzurenda hit a clutch layup and Langston hit several foul shots to help seal the game in the waning moments.

Early in the third quarter, Greenwich also found itself down double-digits, but came back to cut the deficit to 36-33.

During a 9-0 run, McMurray tallied six of the points, draining a baseline three-pointer, hitting a running layup and connecting on a foul shot. Byrd scored the other bucket on a stellar spinning layup in the paint. With close to three minutes to play in the third, Greenwich had a chance to tie the game at 36, as Byrd ran hard in the lane and connected on the one-handed layup. However, the play was waved off, as offensive foul was called. McKnight took advantage of the situation and launched a baseline three ball on the Cadet’s next possession.

“Credit St. Joe’s because they had some nice ball handling tonight,” Brehm said. “McKnight was tough and they spread the floor. I thought we did a decent job against that, but a couple of times it broke down and they got layups and open shots. They played well tonight and were fired up after losing a tough game to Wilton.”

Greenwich was forced to play catch-up throughout the entire contest. Taking a 4-0 lead to start and trailing 5-4 with less than six minutes to play in the opening quarter, St. Joe’s exploded midway through the first.

After McKnight connected on both his free throws, Jake Pelletier was all alone for the easy layup. Dzurenda hit the baseline jumper and with 3:18 to play, Reid hit the long-range jumper to make the score 12-5.

Although McMurray stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer after Greenwich called a timeout to regroup, McKnight took over. He scored the next six points for the Cadets, with two coming in the form of a steal and dunk on the other side of the ball. With less than a minute to play, Reid finished the scoring for St. Joe’s in the quarter by taking the dish from McKnight and connecting on the layup.

“Getting that early lead like that was huge for our team,” Watts said. “It was a confidence-booster for our team. I think once we get out in front, it lets the other team know that we are controlling the game and that’s the type of pace we want to play.”

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