By David Fierro
Though Greenwich Academy’s basketball team didn’t get the result it was hoping for against visiting Cheshire Academy this past Saturday, the effort was certainly there for the Gators.
Playing a bit shorthanded against the talented and experienced Cats, the Gators played from behind throughout in a 53-27 home loss in a NEPSAC matchup. Despite the defeat, GA continues to show improvement with each formidable foe it has faced so far this season.
“We are a really young team and they are getting used to the varsity level,” Greenwich Academy coach Jordan Griffith said. “Now that they are at that point, we have been running some good stuff. They are executing well, but today, the shots didn’t fall.”
Sophomore forward McKenna Brewer totaled a team-high 10 points, including two 3-pointers to lead Greenwich Academy’s offense. Junior Point guard Ruby Montanez added six points for the Gators, who trailed 11-5 after the first quarter and 27-9 at halftime, before finding some offensive rhythm in the third quarter.
GA played without leading scorer Mirabel Rodgers for most of the game. Rodgers, who has scored more than 20 points in a number of games for GA so far this winter, left Saturday’s game against Cheshire Academy early in the second quarter. With the Gators on offense, Rodgers jumped in an attempt to gather a rebound and bumped heads with a Cheshire Academy player. She sustained a cut to the top of her head and began bleeding, causing her to be immediately removed from the game.
Rodgers was treated by GA’s athletic trainers on site and was sidelined the rest of the game. Starting center/power forward Mallory Walker, the Gators’ leading rebounder, who has also added offensive production to the squad, was unable to make Saturdays’ game.
“Mirabel has scored 20 in multiple games in a row,” Griffith noted. “She looked like she was going down that path today and played really tough. It was a clean play, they were going up and bumped heads – she should be back, she should be good to go.”
“Her and Mallory have been our rocks,” Griffith continued. “Those two together have been everything. In a game like this you miss those two it’s going to be a tough one.”
Cheshire Academy (8-3) received a game-high 16 points from freshman Syanne Moncrief. De’Naya Rippey posted 13 points, while senior Kira Ortega added 10 points for the Cats.
“It was tough not having Mallory and Mirabel here, but I think we did a good job,” Brewer said. “We usually play better, once we get started. We need to work on getting started better. We need to get more energized.”
Montanez converted two foul shots and Brewer scored off a well-executed inbounds pass, bringing the Gators to within 18-9 in the second quarter. Rodgers left the game soon after, after taking a blow to the head. A layup by Rippey, a 3-pointer from senior Ava Kijewski and a basket from Ortega raised the Cats’ lead over the Gators to 25-9.
Brewer led GA offensively in the second half, swishing two 3-pointers. She also nailed a long two-point shot from the left corner.
Rodgers scored three points prior to leaving the game with her injury, eighth grader Aneka Lahhami had four points, sophomore Maddie Maliakal had two points and junior Eliza Babyak made a basket for two points for the Gators, who have one win on the season so far.
“Mentally we were really in it, we played good together,” GA sophomore guard Madison Hurns said. “We had some smart passing and good chemistry together.”
“We are definitely improving,” Hurns continued. “Next year, we will continue to improve our chemistry.”
Greenwich Academy hits the court again tomorrow, Jan. 31, at FAA opponent Rye Country Day School. The Gators then host Hopkins School, another FAA team, on Thursday, before traveling to Greens Farms Academy on Feb. 5.
“I think we are improving as the season is going on,” Brewer noted. “We have some games coming up that we think we can win.”