The Greens Farms Academy boys varsity basketball team used the energy of a loud home crowd to knock out the defending New England Champion Hyde School Wolf Pack 62-50. This game was everything that is was billed to be, two talented and motivated squads battling to make it to the Championship game in Worcester, MA on Sunday. The leads in the game were small and see-sawing from beginning to until the final minutes, when GFA's excellent free throw shooting and conditioning prevailed.
Hyde's roster was formidable, featuring two college bound Post Grads in its backcourt and two NCAA Division 1 sized forwards in its front court. Hyde forwards were as big as GFA's Sean Obi (Greenwich), but they did not in match him in scoring talent. Obi was the best player on the floor, getting both Hyde bigs in foul trouble, while putting up a double-double in the process(16 points, 12 rebounds). Hyde's best player was the gifted PG shooter, Julian Mardenli. In the early going, it looked as if Mardenli was going to shoot GFA out of the tournament. He scored 13 of Hyde's first 17 points. GFA's coach Doug Scott then found the answer, he sent Matt Tate (Greenwich) at Mardenli to challenge him defensively with a deny-the-ball tactic. Mardenli never scored again. Hyde's half court offense sputtered from that point on.
GFA Sophomore Zach Baines (Stamford) came up huge in the game. In the post game interviews, Hyde coach, Tom Bragg lamented on how badly Baines hurt them. Hyde was trying to double team Obi, but when they did, the ball would find Baines, and Baines (13 points) did not miss. At the other end of the floor, GFA's defense was stiffened by the fact that neither Obi or Baines needed teammate help in stopping the Hyde bigs.
Pumped up by the crowds chants of "GFA, GFA, GFA", Darien's Pat Ryan (14 points) and Matt Tate put the game out of reach in converting the intentional Hyde fouls into points at the free throw line. Ryan stayed right on pace with his school record breaking season of 91% shooting from the line, making 10 of 11 on the night. Hunter Eggers (Greenwich) lived up to his pre-game reconition for being a 1,000 point career scorer by scoring in a variety of ways to get to a 11 point total.
On Sunday, the GFA students and faculty will follow the "Hoosiers" tradition by assembling a car and bus convoy that leaves the school at 10am in order to make the 1:30pm Championship Game tip off at Worcester Academy. There the #1 seeded Dragons will face the #3 seeded Pingree School of Hamilton, MA.