The Greenwich boys basketball team found its undefeated season in jeopardy late in Tuesday night's FCIAC game at Fairfield Ludlowe, but were able to hang on for a tough road victory.
The Cardinals defeated the Falcons 64-54, but the victory was not easy after a dominant first-half performance by Greenwich. The Falcons, though, came storming out of the gate in the third quarter, pushing Greenwich to the limit.
Greenwich (13-0) had a 17-point lead at the half, but Ludlowe outscored the Cardinals 33-26 in the second half. Ludlowe's best chance came when it cut Greenwich's lead to six points with 1:30 remaining in the game. The Cardinals (11-0 FCIAC) tightened up their defense and held the lead.
After winning three of four games, the Falcons lost their third straight game.
"In the first half, we played fairly well," Greenwich coach Bill Brehm said of his team's up-and-down performance. "In the second half, it was a complete breakdown; we were outhustled and beat mentally. Walking on the floor the second half, we thought we had it won."
While Greenwich's physical abilities are well documented, it's their mental game that Brehm feels needs work.
"They weren't mentally focused pregame, they're adolescents," Brehm said. "It happens, it's a luxury to learn and win, hopefully they learn."
Greenwich was led on both sides of the ball by senior center Alex Wolf, who had 15 points as well as 10 rebounds and six blocks. Wolf created opportunity at both ends of the floor and was ultimately the difference in the contest.
"He's a huge presence inside, he's strong in the post, he changes people's shots inside," Brehm said of Wolf. "A couple times they had runs and we got it into him and he made a couple big buckets."
Another defining factor in the Cardinal victory was their depth. Backup point guard Patrick Santini came off the bench and created life for Greenwich on numerous occasions, specifically at the defensive end of the floor.
"He is a spark," Brehm said of Santini. "He's very fast, very quick, he's just exactly that, a spark coming off the bench and it's great to have those kinds of kids and he's a hustler, he busts his butt out there."
Being a natural soccer player, Santini prides himself on his footwork and being able to stay in front of opposing players on defense.
"I'm different from Tom (Povinelli)," Santini said. "He's someone who puts points on the board for us, my mentality is to shut whoever I get on down."
For Ludlowe (4-9), its comeback, led by Matt Doyle and Mark Malone -- each scored 15 points -- was too little, too late. The Falcons were able to hang around, getting within double digits on three separate occasions in the second half, but were ultimately unable to dig themselves out of the hole they had created.
"It was a tale of two halves," Ludlowe coach John Dailey said. "I'm proud of the way they hung tough because Greenwich is a great team."
Anthony Parelli is a freelance reporter
Greenwich 64, Ludlowe 54
GREENWICH (13-0, 11-0 FCIAC)
Tom Povinelli 2 6-6 11 CJ Byrd 7 5-5 19 Alex Wolf 6 3-4 15 Leonel Hyatt 3 0-0 6 John Palmer 0 4-4 4 Griffin Golden 2 0-0 4 Pat Santini 2 1-2 5. Totals: 22 19-21 64.
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE (4-9, 4-7)
Owen Mockler 1 2-2 5 Matt Doyle 6 2-2 15 Mark Malone 5 2-2 15 Jack Armstrong 2 0-0 6 Chad Peterson 0 2-2 2 Kevin Hickey 2 3-4 7 Hayes Kelchner 1 2-2 4. Totals: 17 13-14 54.
GREENWICH 13 25 12 14--64
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 8 13 19 14--54
3-Pointers: G--Povinelli; FL--Mockler, Doyle, Malone 3, Armstrong 2.