Last season, a few close losses kept the Greenwich boys basketball team out of the FCIAC tournament.

But hoping to change its fortune, the Cardinals held on for a 54-49 win over a determined Fairfield Warde team on opening night for both schools.

Alex Wolf, a 6-foot-9 inch junior transfer from Blair Academy, led the Cardinals with 16 points while CJ Byrd added 11.

Terrance Walden scored 16 for Warde and Max Garrett 15 in the losing cause for the visitors.

Greenwich led 27-17 at halftime and increased it to as much as 37-23 before the Mustangs started chipping away with pressure defense.

Warde coach Ryan Swaller knows he has a young team and was encouraged with the effort put forth in the second half.

"I am more than proud of my guys in the second half," Swaller said. "First-game jitters seemed to jump out at us, but in the second half our pressure and man-to-man defense got us our energy, and we started making some shots. I'd prefer the outcome to be different but you have to learn from it."

The Mustangs, who did not score until 1:33 in the first quarter, took their first lead, 43-42, with 3:45 to play in the fourth quarter and pushed that lead to 47-42 when Garrett banked in a long range 3-pointer with 2:10 to go.

The Cardinals pulled to within 47-46 when Jon Palmer stole the ball and passed up court to Alex McMurray, who hit Wolf streaking down the lane for the layup to put Greenwich back on top for good 48-47.

Wolf scored 14 of his points in the second half, struggling to get the ball to go in the goal in the first half but continuing to fight for rebounds and play intimidating defense in the paint.

"Rebounding is one of the most important things in the game," Wolf said. "It creates second shots so you can get more points up and you have to rebound the ball on defense so you can get the ball back. I think we are starting to get to know each other but it still needs work ... and eventually I think we will get it down.";


Greenwich 54, Warde 49

GREENWICH...................................... 8 19 11 16 -- 54

WARDE............................................ 7 10 1 6 16 -- 49

GREENWICH: CJ Byrd 5 1-2 11; Dan Guise 2 2-2 8; Alex McMurray 2 1-2 6; Jon Palmer 1 0-0 2; Alex Wolf 5 5-8 16; Leonel Hyatt 1 1-4 3; Thomas Baietto 1 2-2 5; Jimmy Djema 0 3-4 3; Sam Latto 0 0-0 0; Jake Tennenbaum 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 16-25 54

WARDE: Michael Pehota 0 0-0 0; Hunter Smaldone 1 0-0 3; Terrance Walden6 2-4 16; Max Garrett 5 5-7 15; Brian Kerrigan 0 0-0 0; Nick Cotto 2 4-4 9; Mark Byrne 2 0-0 4; T.J. Tracey 0 0-0 0; Dan Cetta 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 11-15 49.

3-point field goals: G -- Guise 2, McMurray, Baietto; W -- Walden 2, Smaldone, Garrett 2, Cotto

Fouled out: None

Records: G 1-0; W 0-1