In CJ Byrd and Alex Wolf, the Greenwich High School boys basketball team figures to have one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in the FCIAC this winter.
It sure didn't take the senior duo long to make an impact, either.
Byrd showcased his skills from seemingly every angle on the court en route to a game-high 27 points, while the 6-foot-9 Wolf played up to his imposing size with 17 points, eight boards, three blocks and three steals as Greenwich rolled to a 62-47 victory over New Canaan in Wednesday's season-opener.
"This was a great way to begin the season," Byrd said. "Alex is basically getting triple-teamed every time he touches the ball down low so that really opens up the court for everyone else. We were able to take advantage. I've worked hard to improve my shot, and when that wasn't working, I felt comfortable taking it to the rim."
After a back-and-forth first six minutes, the Cardinals took control, thanks to a 15-0 run that culminated with a bucket inside by Wolf early in the second quarter.
The Rams would get as close as 35-31 on a 3-pointer by Erik Jager midway through the third quarter, but the Cards quickly responded with a 3-pointer by Tom Povinelli before Byrd took over the rest of the period.
"He's so athletic and when you get a player like Alex down there it really makes a difference," Greenwich coach Bill Brehm said. "I thought overall our defensive intensity was great. I always tell them if you can win three of three when it comes to turnovers, rebounding and foul shots, you should win the game."
Andrew Penchuk and Claude Chadonnet each had 15 points for the Rams, while Jager added nine.
Still, it wasn't enough on this night for New Canaan.
"We lost so I'm disappointed," Rams coach Mike Evans said. "(Byrd and Wolf) are good players, but our overall execution needs to be better."
Leonel Hyatt scored six points and Jon Palmer had five for the Cardinals, who travel to Danbury on Friday before taking part in the TECO Coal Commodre Classic -- a two-day, five-team tournament in Kentucky during the holiday break.
"It would mean a lot to start 2-0 and take all that momentum and confidence into the tournament because there will be some tough teams," Byrd said. "I was quoted once that I saw the fire in us. That's something that I see with this group every day in practice, and it carried over to our first game."
GREENWICH 62, NEW CANAAN 47
NEW CANAAN (0-1) Read Full Article
Andrew Penchuk 7 1-3 15; Claude Chandonnet 6 4-4 15; Paul Hagopian 1 3-4 5; Erik Jager 2 3-4 9; Tyler S. 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 11-15 47.
CJ Byrd 13 0-1 27; Tom Povinelli 1 0-0 2; Leonel Hyatt 3 0-0 6; Alex Wolf 7 3-5 17; Jon Palmer 1 3-6; 5; Patrick Santini 0 0-0 0; Griffin Golden 2 0-0 4. Totals 27 6-12 62.
NEW CANAAN 9 15 11 12--47
GREENWICH 17 16 13 16--62
3-pointers: NC--Jager 2; G--Povinelli, Byrd.