Boys basketball: Warriors pull away late to beat Greenwich
Kyle Maatallah caught fire late in the game to lead the Wilton High boys basketball team to a 61-41 victory over the Greenwich Cardinals on Friday night at the Zeoli Fieldhouse. Maatallah drained a 3-pointer to break a 30-30 tie, giving the Warriors a 33-30 lead going into the final quarter of play.
When Maatallah knocked down his second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter he gave his a team a double–digit lead that it would never relinquish. Maatallah scored 12 of his game high 17 points in the fourth quarter, as the Warriors outscored the Cardinals 28- 11 in the period.
“We’ve been getting off to slow starts the last several games, whereas earlier in the season we were jumping out early on our opponents. We have also had some dead spots in games where we don’t perform to the level we are capable of,” said Maatallah. “We weren’t attacking the basket early in the game and our production suffered. Attacking the basket opens up our offense and helps get open looks at threes if the lane gets closed down. I had the hot hand late in the game and my teammates found me and I hit the open shots.”
Coming into Friday night’s match the Warriors had lost three of their last four games and dropped out of the top seed in the conference. And unlike earlier in the season, when the team opened the season 10-0, gone is the team jumping out a big early leads and routing most of their opponents by 30 points.
“We’ve had some key injuries, the schedule got a little to tougher, and we had a target on our back being undefeated,” said Wilton head coach Joel Geriak about his team’s performance of late. “Jack Williams has been out several games with an injury and he is clearly the glue of this team and when he’s on the court the guys around him play better.”
He continued, “We aren’t gelling as a team like we did earlier in the season and the players are not trying to each do too much, but they’re actually not doing enough. Tonight we struggled early with their zone defense and there were times when we pushed the ball up the court like we want to do, but we didn’t play under control. We had chances to put our opponent away in
the first half but we didn’t. We have to learn to put teams away when the opportunity is there.”Both teams got off to a slow start, with Greenwich turning the ball over its first three trips down the floor. Matt Kronenberg got thing started for Wilton with a short jumper, but neither team could get on track in the first period as the score was 8-4 after one.
Greenwich went on an 8-1 run to start the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Elias Gianopoulos gave the Cardinals their biggest lead of the game at 12-9. But the Warriors would overcome the Cardinal lead and their own turnovers to finish out the first half on a 13-0 run to take a 22-12 lead into the break. Scott Cunningham came off the bench and sparked the Warriors’ offense when he hit two 3-pointers to give the home team its biggest lead of the first half.
Wilton got balanced scoring in the first half, with Cunningham leading the way with six points and three players with four points each.
Two buckets by Drew Connolly and one by Kyle Shifrin put Wilton up 28-15 early third quarter. As the Warriors looked to put the Cardinals away, just the opposite happened. Greenwich went on a 13-0 run to tie the game at 28-28 with 2:30 left to play in the third quarter. Two free throws by Robbie Hermann stopped the bleeding and a Maatallah 3-pointer closed out the period with Wilton ahead 33-30.
Williams, who returned to action Friday night for the first time in several games and saw limited action, drained a 3-pointer to start the final quarter and the Warriors were on their way to a 20-point win.
Both teams committed way too many turnovers for their coaches' liking and the Cardinals hurt their chances for a win by going only six-for-15 from the foul line.
In addition to Maatallah’s game-high 17 points, Connolly finished with 10 points and Shifrin chipped in with eight points. Conor Harkins led Greenwich with 15 points and Gianopoulos added 11 points.
Wilton is now 12-3 overall and 9-3 in the FCIAC with four conference games remaining on the schedule. The Warriors started the night seeded third in the FCIAC. The lost drops Greenwich to 8-9 overall and 7-6 in the conference.