After beginning the season with three consecutive losses, the Darien High School girls basketball team is slowly, but surely, starting to resemble the squad that won 11 games last winter and qualified for the FCIAC and Class LL tournaments.
The resurgent Blue Wave took another step in the right direction Thursday night, flourishing on both ends of the court in a well-earned 50-34 win over visiting Greenwich in an FCIAC matchup.
With their third victory in four games, the Blue Wave raised their record to 3-4 overall and 3-1 in FCIAC play. Sparked by a balanced scoring effort, Darien was paced by 12 points from junior Lindsay Dimonekas and a 10-point effort from junior center Hassana Arbubakrr.
Darien brought a 26-13 lead into halftime, then after Greenwich closed to within 30-24 late in the third quarter, the home team pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Execution was indeed, key for the victors.
“This game, we relaxed and we didn’t just throw the ball away,” Dimonekas said. “We set up our plays, put in our shots and made the layups we had been missing in previous games.”
Freshman guard Shea Dolce added 10 points, including two 3-pointers, while junior guard Gwen Dolce and junior guard Kelly Richter had five points apiece in the winning effort.
“Turnovers has been a big problem this year, but having everyone back (from injury) has brought the team together and we played really well,” Gwen Dolce said. “We had a lot of people score, which was big for us. Our effort was huge.”
Darien held a significant rebounding advantage on Greenwich and used its effective man-to-man defense and 2-3 zone to hold the Cardinals at bay offensively.
Senior center Taylor Stamos paced the Cardinals on the offensive end with 10 points and gathered numerous rebounds. Junior forward Julia Conforti scored nine points, while senior guard Michelle Morganti contributed eight points for Greenwich (3-5, 1-3 FCIAC).
“We were completely inconsistent,” GHS coach Chrys Hernandez said. “For whatever reason, we came out and just did not execute. Darien’s ability to knock down open shots hurt us. They moved the ball around and found open people under the basket.”
Following Shea Dolce’s layup off a steal, which gave Darien a 5-0 lead, Greenwich went on an 8-2 run to take an 8-7 advantage.
A layup by Stamos and short jumper from freshman Kristin Riggs put the Cards ahead by a point, but the Blue Wave then went on a pivotal 15-2 run.
Dimonekas made a pair of foul shots and swished a foul line jump shot, then Arbubakrr scored off a strong low post move and a putback, making it 15-8 with 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
After Dimonekas scored off a runner in the lane, Shea Dolce buried a 3-pointer from the right side, putting the home team on top, 22-10 at the 5:20 mark of the first quarter.
“We are starting to get more comfortable and we have a different energy and confidence than we had earlier in the season,” Blue Wave coach Melba Chambers said. “Our team is starting to settle in now.”
Facing a 13-point halftime deficit, Greenwich got back into the game behind a strong start to the third quarter. Getting four points from Stamos and a 3-pointer from junior guard Jordan Moses, the Cards closed to within 30-24 with an 11-4 spurt.
Yet after Conforti’s layup made it 30-24, Darien scored the game’s next nine points to seize a 39-24 edge early in the fourth quarter. Gwen Dolce and Arbubakrr each converted offensive rebounds into points, giving the hosts a 34-24 lead after three quarters.
Darien began the fourth quarter with baskets from Dimonekas and Gwen Dolce (3-pointer) to open a 39-24 lead.
“We need to work on boxing out, crashing the boards better and jelling more on offense,” Stamos said. “We lost our momentum and our energy. Our team has some tough games coming up, so hopefully, we can gain some momentum and come back from this game.”
Said Morganti: “We definitely struggled on offense — it didn’t click and that really slowed us down. They were quick with the ball and they got us out of rotations on defense.”
Darien went 11 for 17 from the foul line, while Greenwich converted 12 of its 18 free throw attempts.
“Just being patient and recognizing what we need to do when they change their defense helped us,” Chambers said. “We’re doing okay with that, but we could still do better.”
Darien hosts St. Joseph on Saturday at 1 p.m. Greenwich is in action again Monday at Fairfield Ludlowe at 7 p.m.
Darien 50, Greenwich 34
Thursday, Jan. 3, at DHS
Greenwich 8 5 11 10 – 34
Darien 15 11 8 16 – 50
Greenwich: Taylor Stamos 4 2-4 10, Michelle Morganti 1 5-6 8, Kristin Riggs 1 0-0 2, Julia Conforti 3 3-6 9, Jordan Moses 1 2-2 5, Kelly Martyanov 0 0-0 0, Ciara Munnelly 0 0-0 0, Marielle Povinelli 0 0-0 0. Totals: 10 12-18 34
Darien: Lindsay Dimonekas 4 4-4 12, Erika Stephans 2 0-0 4, Gwen Dolce 2 0-0 5, Shea Dolce 3 2-3 10, Kelly Richter 1 3-6 5, Maggie Ramsay 0 0-0 0, Aerin Bowman 1 2-4 4, Hassana Arbubakrr 5 0-0 10. Totals: 18 11-17 50
3-pointers: G – Morganti, Moses; D – Shea Dolce 2, Gwen Dolce.