Close call for Greenwich

Good shots were hard to come by during Thursday’s game between visiting Greenwich and Norwalk, as both squads were bit by the turnover bug the majority of the first half. When the Cardinals and Bears did get open looks it seemed as though there was a lid on the basket, with the FCIAC foes struggling to score.

In the end however, Greenwich survived its closest call of the season to date, edging Norwalk, 40-38. The Cardinals, who ran their record to 9-0, trailed 11-10 after the first quarter, before entering halftime with an 18-15 advantage. It took some hot-shooting the final two minutes of the fourth quarter just for Greenwich and Norwalk to forge a 29-29 tie heading into the fourth. Here’s a look at what transpired Thursday in Norwalk.

Byrd on the break: Senior guard CJ Byrd scored eight of Greenwich’s 11 fourth-quarter points, six of which came in transition. Neither team got out on the break much in this matchup, but Byrd’s three biggest baskets came when he took it upon himself to go coast-to-coast in a tight game. He scored a team-best 17 points.

“CJ is the kind of player that we give the green light to,” GHS coach Bill Brehm said. “We let him go and let the chips fall where they may. He had some big drives in the fourth quarter.”

Getting defense: I was impressed with how both teams played defensively. Trapping in the corners makes Greenwich’s 2-3 zone especially effective. Norwalk also utilized a 2-3 zone, making the Cardinals work for their shots. Greenwich switched to a man-to-man in the fourth quarter to try to increase the game’s tempo and also used a couple of different full court presses (2-2-1, 1-3-1).

“We played a bunch of different defenses tonight,” Byrd said. “Our 1-3-1 full court press slowed them down and in the half court we doubled the corners.”

Stepping up: Norwalk received a big boost from forward Roy Kane Jr. He hit several floaters in the lane and also showed his shooting touch, stepping out and converting key jumpers. Kane Jr. recorded a game-high 20 points. Besides Byrd, forward Leonel Hyatt was solid down low for the Cardinals, scoring six points, while doing a good job on the boards. Guard Griffin Golden hit two big shots and Jonathan Palmer once again helped key the Cards’ aggressive defense.

Wolf battles through: Alex Wolf, a senior 6-foot-10 center, is accustomed to registering a double-double each game for the Cardinals. But Thursday’s game was a struggle for Wolf, who began the first 30 seconds of the game on the bench after feeling sick. Kudos to Wolf, who finished with eight points (6 of 10 from the foul line), for giving it a go.

“One thing about Alex, he’s never going to stop going,” Brehm said. “When he’s out there, eventually something good will happen. He just wasn’t himself today, he wasn’t feeling good at all.”

Here’s my game story on Greenwich’s hard-fought win vs. Norwalk


Dave Fierro