DARIEN -- Having already lost three games by three points or less, the Greenwich High School girls basketball team was determined not to suffer the same fate against rival Darien on Thursday, Dec. 27.
Seeing their 17-point first-half lead disappear, the Cardinals were close to dropping yet another heartbreaker as the Blue Wave forced overtime in the opening-round game of the Tony LaVista Tournament. But this time, the Cardinals sealed the deal.
Yielding only two points in overtime, Greenwich snapped a five-game losing streak, edging host Darien, 53-47. The Cardinals (2-5) will play New Canaan in Saturday's championship game at Darien High School at 3 p.m.
"We are finally getting over the hump," said Wolf, who had 10 first-half points. "We lost three games in a row by less than three points, so this was a big win for us."
Darien junior guard Kelly Karczewski (11 points) sent the game into overtime, making three free throws after being fouled while taking a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the fourth quarter. Blue Wave senior forward Kate Bushell's jumper gave Darien a 47-45 lead 1:20 into overtime, but the Cardinals controlled the extra quarter thereafter. Wolf scored on a low post move and a putback, sophomore Jamie Kockenmeister (eight points), converted a layup and Moses hit a jump shot for Greenwich, which outscored Darien 8-2 in overtime.
"Coach (Chrys Hernandez) pulled us over and told us to calm down and take a deep breath and we composed ourselves and went out there and shut them down," Barrett said. "We know we can't lose these types of games anymore. This is not a season for moral victories."
Greenwich raced out to a 14-4 first-quarter lead behind six points apiece from Kockenmeister and Wolf, then extended its advantage to 23-6 after Wolf's reverse layup with 3:02 left in the second quarter. The Blue Wave didn't make their first shot from the field into the second quarter, but slowly got back into the game. After ending the first half with a 7-0 run, the Blue Wave outscored the Cards 17-5 in the third quarter to seize a 30-28 lead. Bushell (team-high 17 points) had the hot hand during the third quarter for Darien, scoring six points.
"We played better defense in the second half, but we can't just play one half of basketball," said Darien coach Katie Lauten, whose team played without injured center Meg Marren. "We got out slow defensively, which hurt us."
The Cardinals' regained their rhythm on offense in the final quarter with Wolf flourishing in the low post and Moses driving to the basket.
"The first quarter we came out strong, then we may have relaxed a little bit," Wolf said. "We have to continue to stay aggressive."
The Blue Wave rebounded to pick up a 39-35 win over Staples in the LaVista Tournament consolation game on Monday.
Jamie Kockenmeister 4 0-0 8; Abby Wolf 9 4-4 22; Rebecca DeCarlo 0 0-4 0; Caroline Barrett 2 4-7 10; Jenny Cespedes 0 1-2 1; Alexa Moses 3 4-4 10; Rebecca Kural 1 0-0 2; Brittany Rodriguez 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 13-19 53.
GREENWICH...............................14 9 5 17 8 -- 53
DARIEN......................................4 9 17 15 2 -- 47