By David Fierro
The 3-point shots began falling in impressive fashion and the transition baskets added up for Sacred Heart Greenwich during the third quarter of its home game against FAA basketball foe Greenwich Country Day School on Tuesday.
That all resulted in Sacred Heart’s lead growing to double digits during the pivotal third quarter and a second straight decisive victory.
Senior guard/forward Payton Sfreddo scored a game-high 27 points and junior guard Eva Wilkerson added 17 points to power host Sacred Heart to an 83-50 victory over Greenwich Country Day. The win raised Sacred Heart’s record to 2-0, heading into Saturday’s FAA road matchup against School of the Holy Child. The hosts held a 15-9 lead on GCDS after the first quarter, before entering halftime with a 38-29 advantage.
“I thought it was an awesome win,” said Sfreddo, a co-captain. “We were moving the ball super well and we were shooting super well, especially in the second half. We were only up by nine at halftime, so for us to win by 30 was pretty impressive.”
Sfreddo grabbed nine rebounds and totaled eight assists, while Wilkerson tallied 10 rebounds and five assists in the winning effort.
“One of the key things that we needed to focus on in this game was transition and making sure we had the proper spacing and just hitting the open player when we can,” Wilkerson said. “I think that really contributed to the win.”
Senior point guard/captain Madison Hart contributed 12 points, three steals and three assists for SHG, which opened its season with a home triumph against Hotchkiss School this past Saturday.
Coached by Ayo Hart, SHG received points from 11 players against Greenwich Country Day and poured in 27 points in the third quarter.
“I’m really proud of our performance,” Madison Hart said. “It was definitely a team effort. Everyone on our roster made an impact right away.”
Greenwich Country Day School received a team-best 25 points from Brianna McDermott in a rematch of last season’s FAA Tournament quarterfinals, won by Sacred Heart.
“Brianna is thriving, she has put this team on her back,” GCDS coach Elisa Brown said. “She is a vocal leader on the court and our younger players are beginning to rise. We have a lot of new faces on the team and it’s going to be uphill from here.”
Layups by Sfreddo and Wilkerson gave SHG a 12-4 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Sfreddo against GCDS’ man-to-man defense put the home team on top, 15-6 at the 1:28 mark of the second quarter and a deep 3-pointer by McDermott brought the visitors to within 15-9 in the final seconds of the opening frame.
Wilkerson converted a layup off a steal, hit a runner in the lane and scored in transition off a pass from teammate Ava Curto, upping Sacred Heart’s advantage to 24-11 with 6:04 to go in the second quarter.
Greenwich Country Day closed to within 29-23 in the final two minutes of the second quarter, with McDermott leading the way offensively. McDermott had 19 first half points, while sophomore forward Lara Young added a pair of second quarter baskets.
Wilkerson’s layup off a steal from Madison Hart and basket off an offensive rebound as the buzzer sounded gave Sacred Heart a 38-29 halftime lead.
“Coach Hart told us to look up and hit the open player,” Wilkerson noted. “This was a strong team win.”
After scoring 23 points during the second quarter, SHG totaled 27 points in the third quarter, outscoring GCDS, 27-9 and building a comfortable 65-38 lead. Sfreddo, who scored 10 first-quarter points, added 12 third-quarter points. She swished four 3-pointers for the game. Wilkers notched 11 third-quarter points for SHG, which converted 10 3-pointers in the FAA matchup.
“It was a close game for sure in the first half,” Ayo Hart said. “We sent them to the line a lot. They’re a very good free throw shooting team, they’re very disciplined. In the second half, we stop fouling and then our transition opened up again. We started the game with some good transition points and in the second quarter we didn’t do that too much. They went to a zone, kudos to them, it slowed us down a little bit. We were able to figure that out and get back into transition before the zone set up.”
A foul line jumper by Sfreddo and a layup off a steal by senior guard Victoria Hart put Sacred Heart ahead, 48-31, early in the third quarter. Sfreddo then made a three-pointer, making it 51-31 at the 4:05 mark of the third quarter.
“We showed that we’re a second half team and it’s a confidence boost for us in the FAA and for the hard games coming up,” Sfreddo said. “Coming out of the locker room with new energy and new goals and hitting those first few shots in the first few minutes, helped build the momentum and team energy.”
Victoria Hart scored eight points, including two 3-pointers and played standout defense, senior guard Olivia Leahy and Curto added five points apiece and guard Mackensie Gillen had four points for the victors. Jadamarie Henry, a forward, added two points, as did forward/center Maddy Hooper in the win.
“Coming out in the second half we made adjustments that we talked about and it showed,” Madison Hart said. “We were hitting key shots and getting defensive stops, so that was huge.”
Sophomore forward Mia Grant scored eight points, while Young, senior guard Paloma Snisky and eighth grader McKenna O’Neill had six points apiece for Greenwich Country Day.
“They are a transition team for sure,” coach Brown said of Sacred Heart. “They have good shooters, they kick out really well, it’s hard to play them when they are making 3s. We’re a young team as well. With that being said, it gives us an opportunity to use this game as adversity as we go into our next game. It’s an opportunity to move on from here, make some tweaks on our side and get the girls’ basketball IQ a little bit higher.”
Sacred Heart will look to improve to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in FAA play when it visits School of the Holy Child on Saturday.
Indeed, Sacred Heart’s depth and defensive intensity are its assets.
“There are so many different scorers and that’s really important,” Madison Hart said. “We have so much depth and so many different offensive threats.”
“On defense, we just needed to make sure we had an eye on everybody, because everybody is an offensive threat,” Wilkerson noted. “I thought we did well overall on our team defense.”