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Greenwich boys uses big 2nd-half run to topple Trumbull

Updated 11:38 pm, Thursday, February 7, 2013

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  • C.J.  Byrd # 2 of Greenwich scores during the boys high school basketball game between Greenwich High School and Trumbull High School at Greenwich, Thursday night, Feb. 7, 2013. In the foreground is Leonel Hyatt # 54 of Greenwich. Photo: Bob Luckey / Greenwich Time
    C.J. Byrd # 2 of Greenwich scores during the boys high school basketball game between Greenwich High School and Trumbull High School at Greenwich, Thursday night, Feb. 7, 2013. In the foreground is Leonel Hyatt # 54 of Greenwich. Photo: Bob Luckey

 

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Running nearly every chance it got, Greenwich High School turned Thursday's boys basketball game against Trumbull into a track meet.

It didn't take long to see that the Eagles weren't going to keep pace in this race.

Forcing turnovers at an impressive rate, the Cardinals quickly turned miscues into points in its convincing 72-41 victory over the Eagles in an FCIAC matchup.

Senior guard Alex McMurray scored 16 points, while junior backcourt mate C.J. Byrd added 15 points for Greenwich, which blew the game open with a 30-2 run during a seven-minute span in the second half. For Greenwich, the countless fast-break points began with its defense.

"We all knew that we needed to play strong defense coming off a game in which we didn't play our best defense (a loss to Westhill)," Byrd said. "Coming into this game we kept saying, it was defense first and offense later."

The Cardinals (8-8, 7-7) who had lost three of their last four entering Thursday's game, qualified for the CIAC Class LL tournament with the win.

"Getting into the state tournament again is a beautiful thing, now we have our sights set on making the FCIAC tournament," Greenwich coach Bill Brehm said.

Greenwich, which has applied full-court pressure in most of its games, backed off the press Thursday, opting to play a tight, half court man-to-man. The Eagles had more trouble moving the ball against the Cards' defense as the game progressed, and the turnovers mounted.

"Going into the game, we emphasized good, solid, fundamental halfcourt defense," Brehm said. "It speaks to the desire of these kids that they came together and played unselfish basketball."

After a putback from Trumbull sophomore guard Rashard Rodriguez (15 points) and a jumper from teammate Luke Waldek cut Greenwich's lead to 35-25 with 6:10 remaining in the third quarter, the Cardinals scored 30 of the game's next 32 points. Byrd scored a fast-break layup off a pass from junior guard Jimmy Djema, sophomore forward Leonel Hyatt scored off a putback and McMurray swished a 3-pointer, making it a 42-25 game. Back-to-back layups from Byrd off the break and a basket in transition from guard Jonathan Palmer put the visitors in a 48-25 third-quarter hole.

Djema had 13 points and Hyatt added eight for the Cardinals, who received scoring from nine different players.

"It was great, this is what we were talking about in the huddle before the game," Djema said. "Tonight, we moved the ball well and everyone contributed. We all had points, assists, steals and really got together on defense."

After Rodriguez hit a runner in the lane, tying the score at 6-6 midway through the first quarter, it was all Cardinals thereafter. Effectively moving the ball and running whenever they could, Greenwich ended the opening quarter with a 12-2 run to open an 18-8 advantage. Trumbull (2-14, 1-13 FCIAC) closed to within 23-17 with 5:50 left in the second quarter, but an 11-2 spurt from the Cards made it 34-19 at the half. Hyatt pounded the back boards during the run, while McMurray, Byrd and Djema flourished in transition.

"We practiced getting out in the fast break the whole week in practice and it worked well tonight," McMurray said. "We only had two turnovers tonight, which was amazing. We need to play tough defense like this the entire game."

Trumbull coach Buddy Bray has watched his team self-destruct with turnovers all season.

"That's kind of what's been happening to us this year," Bray said. "We do a decent job in spurts, but we are young and inexperienced and it shows. Credit Greenwich, they beat us in transition pretty good."

Up next for the Cards is a crucial home game Monday against Staples.

"We made it to states with this win, so, hopefully, we can use it as momentum," Djema said. "Next week, we have a couple of tough games against teams that will give us a run for our money."

Said Brehm: "Staples is a big rival of ours. We beat them at their place last year, but we know they are going to be tough."

david.fierro@scni.com

TRUMBULL 8 11 8 14 -- 41

GREENWICH 18 16 23 15 -- 72

TRUMBULL (41) Rashard Rodriguez 7 0-1 15; John Watts 1 0-0 2; Matt Turner 1 0-0 2; Brandon Owen 1 0-0 2; Ryan McCabe 1 0-0 2; Bill Stickle 1 0-0 2; Luke Waldek 2 0-0 4; Frank Puglia 3 0-0 7; Eddie McElroy 1 0-0 3; Chris Lyons 1 0-0 2; Jason Micalizzi 0 0-0 0; Jermaine Alston 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 0-1 41.

GREENWICH (72) C.J. Byrd 6 3-5 15; Alex McMurray 7 1-1 16; Thomas Baietto 1 0-0 3; Leonel Hyatt 3 2-4 8; Jimmy Djema 6 0-0 13; Danny Guise 0 0-0 0; Mike Ellsworth 3 0-0 6; Jake Tennenbaum 1 0-0 2; Kyle Foote 0 0-0 0; Tommy Provinelli 2 0-0 4; Jonathan Palmer 2 1-2 5; Sam Latto 0 0-0 0. Totals: 31 7-12 72.

3-pointers: T -- Rodriguez, Puglia, McElroy; G -- McMurray, Baietto, Djema.

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