Brunswick School played well enough defensively to beat FAA basketball rival Greens Farms Academy on Friday night and held its own in the rebounding department. But the Bruins shot just 27 percent from the field -- an offensive performance that wouldn't push it past many opponents let alone the defending league champion Dragons.
In a game where points were hard to come by throughout, Greens Farms Academy did enough offensively and flourished defensively to register another victory.
Paced by Greenwich residents Matt Tate and Jim Djema, the Dragons pulled away from the Bruins late in the second half in a workmanlike 57-44 win at Brunswick's Dann Gymnasium in a rematch of last year's FAA final, won by Greens Farms.
Tate, a senior guard, scored a game-high 26 points while Djema, a junior guard, added 12 points for GFA (2-0).
"We played great man-to-man defense and tried to get them to take a lot of quick shots," Tate said. "We didn't want them to waste time moving the ball around, we wanted to make it an up-tempo game."
Djema, who played for Greenwich High School last year, is feeling comfortable in his new surroundings.
"I love the team chemistry," Djema said. "We have a lot of great role players and a lot of potential. I heard it was tough to get a win here, they only lost once at home last year, so this was a big game for us."
"Tonight, we played good defense, but we can't let teams beat us by scoring 57 points and we need to score more than 44 points," Henry Taylor said. "We just couldn't convert our steals into points."
One of the key stretches of the game came during a four-minute span late in the first half/early in the second half. After Wadsworth scored on a putback, cutting the Dragons' lead to 23-19 with 2:15 left in the opening half, GFA went on an 8-0 run to open a 31-19 advantage. Tate converted a pair of free throws, made a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half, then banked home a shot from beyond the arc to start the second half, making it 29-19. Forward Zach Baines' basket off a well-executed up-and-under, capped the visitors' run.
The Bruins responded by going on a 10-1 spurt, punctuated by a basket by Taylor, cutting Greens Farms' lead to 32-29 with 10:10 remaining. That's the closest Brunswick got though, as Tate, Djema and a pair of free throws from 6-foot-7 freshman center Sunday Okeke fueled another GFA run. Every time the Bruins crept close, turnovers helped the Dragons build a lead.
"We made 17 steals, which means they had a lot of turnovers," Bruins coach Robert Taylor said. "But the turnovers they created seemed to be more timely. Whenever we got some momentum going there was a turnover."
The majority of the first half was a defensive struggle with both squads struggling offensively. Mixing a 3-2 and 1-3-1 zone with a man-to-man, Brunswick kept within striking distance of GFA despite being plagued by poor shooting. The home team converted only 15 of 55 shots from the field for the game and were 2 of 17 from 3-point range. When the Bruins forced turnovers and got out on the fastbreak they didn't capitalize on several chances.Read Full Article
"We forced a lot of turnovers, but we need to convert them into easy hoops in transition," Wadsworth said. "Overall, I think we're looking pretty good, we just have to convert our shots and cut down on our turnovers."
Greens Farms took a 10-4 lead when Okeke (four points) scored off a drop step in the lane six minutes into the first half, but Brunswick rallied to go ahead 15-14 on a short jumper by senior 6-7 center Teddy Murphy (eight points) with just over five minutes left in the opening half. Djema's fastbreak layup gave the visitors the lead for good at 16-15.
"It's that time of the year when execution is ugly and you just hope grit can carry you through," GFA coach Doug Scott said. "We know each other really well from playing each other two times a year in this league, so it was all about effort tonight. We have a target this season for holding opponents under 50 points."
Tate had seven assists, five rebounds and five steals and Brendan Bieder added five assists and six rebounds for the victors.
"A lot of teams may look at us as a one-trip pony after we won last year, but we have a good all-around team, not just five starters," Tate said.
Senior guard Ryan Hardin finished with six points and a team-high six steals for the Bruins, who have five games the next eight days -- all on the road.
"Our team has a lot of work to do, but it's work we can accomplish," coach Taylor said. "I'm feeling good about the team."
GFA 57, Brunswick 44
GREENS FARMS (2-0, 1-0 FAA)
Brendan Bieder 2 0-0 4; Matt Tate 6 11-13 26; Zach Baines 3 1-3 7; Sunday Okeke 1 2-4 4; Andrew Chase 1 2-2 4; Jim Djema 5 1-3 12 ;Robert Clark 0 0-0 0 Max Tarika 0 0-0 0, Totals: 18 17-25 57.
BRUNSWICK (0-2, 0-1 FAA)
Henry Taylor 4 1-3 9; Teddy Murphy 4 0-0 8; Nacho Nwana 2 8-12 12; Ryan Hardin 2 0-0 6; Dylan Wadsworth 3 3-5 9; Sean Morris 0 0-0 0; Billy O'Malley 0 0-0 0; Matt Gendell 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 12-20 44.
GFA 26 31 --57
BRUNSWICK 19 25 --44
3-Pointers: GFA -- Tate 3, Djema. B -- Hardin 2.
Highlights: GFA -- Tate 7 assists. Bieder 6 rebounds.