When Chris Genaro hit a basket early in the third quarter, the Greenwich boys basketball team had an 11-point lead and looked to be in control of Monday night’s game against Ridgefield.
Then James St. Pierre happened.
Held to a quiet six points in the opening half, St. Pierre drilled five 3-pointers as part of his 17-point eruption in the third. Combined with a press that forced turnovers, St. Pierre’s hot hand helped Ridgefield outscore the Cardinals by 18 in in the third quarter, turning a halftime deficit into an 11-point lead.
The Tigers then continued their rampage throughout the fourth quarter, pulling away for a resounding 77-53 victory.
St. Pierre finished with a game-high 30 points, hitting eight 3-pointers.
“We have to play a certain way, and when we play that way we’re good and when we don’t we’re average,” Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan said afterwards. “The first half was average Ridgefield and the second half was what our program’s become when we play the right way.”
“I thought we had a pretty good game plan,” Greenwich coach Chris Lovermi said. “In the first half we came out and executed fairly well. In the second half we lost a little edge. They upped their intensity level and we didn’t have much of an answer.”
The Cardinals did play with precision in the first two quarters. Greenwich worked the ball inside to 6-foot-6 center Oliver Milledge (21 points, 12 in the first half ), and its 2-2-1 zone defense befuddled Ridgefield, which could not find a groove.
“We had (written) on the board (in the locker room), trust your teammates, trust our system, trust your skill,” McClellan said. “I thought in the first half we didn’t do those things. The effort was there but what we weren’t quite sure of ourselves. We weren’t in the right spots.”
Ridgefield (6-3) went to a press at the start of the third quarter, and that defensive intensity led to a slew of Greenwich turnovers and transition buckets for the Tigers.
“The press hurt us a little,” said Lovermi, whose team fell to 4-4. “I think it sped us up, which we really didn’t want to do. We had trouble getting into our offensive sets and getting the ball where we wanted to.”
The Tigers, meanwhile, were able to get the ball exactly where they wanted: into St. Pierre’s hands.
“Nobody shoots it like James does when he gets in a rhythm,” McClellan said. “When he shoots like that we’re not going to get beat.”
“I give credit to Ridgefield for making those adjustments and for their best player to go off and have a tremendous third quarter,” Lovermi said in reference to St. Pierre. “Some of his shots were wide open, but some were contested.”
RIDGEFIELD 77, GREENWICH 53
Brian Ricks 2 0-0 4; Chris Genaro 3 1-2 8; Max Steinman 1 0-0 2; Gavin Muir 0 2-2 2; Chris Mark 1 1-2 3; Luis Mercado 2 2-2 6; Greg Altamore 3 0-0 7; Oliver Milledge 9 3-5 21. TOTALS: 21 7-13 53.
James St. Pierre 9 4-4 30; Chris Knachel 7 0-0 14; Cameron Andry 2 0-0 6; Derek Szpakowski 2 1-2 5; Nick Hall 1 0-0 2; Johnny Briody 2 0-0 5; Matt DeLuca 5 2-3 13; Mike Vasconcelos 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 29 7-9 77.
GREENWICH 16 12 11 14 — 53
RIDGEFIELD 13 8 29 27 — 77
3-point field goals: G — Genaro, Altamore; R — St. Pierre 8, Andry 2, Briody.