WESTPORT, Conn. – Faced with the loss of two 1,000-point scorers from last year’s New England champions, Greens Farms Academy coach boys basketball Doug Scott was uncertain of what to expect heading into a new season.
But he should not have worried, On Sunday, the Green Dragons won their second straight New England Prep School Class C championship with a 56-45 win over Hyde.Tournament MVP Zach Baines of Stamford scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead GFA, which finished the season at 21-4.
“The cupboard looked incredibly bare at this time last year,’’ Scott said. “We got incredibly lucky with some kids coming in. It was a fun team to be a part of.”
Scott said he got his first indication that his team could quickly replace Sean Obi and Hunter Eggers, who combined for more than 2,300 points, during summer league play last year. The addition of Greenwich’s Jimmy Djema and Darien’s Sunday Okeka helped mitigate the losses. GFA opened the season with a nine-game winning streak, and the uncertainty vanished.
“We had a team camp in Dartmouth in June, and rolled over everybody,’’ Scttt said. “We had another league where we played well against some FCIAC teams. We had an good idea then it might be a pretty good team. Everything meshed pretty quickly.”
GFA finished the Fairchester Athletic Association season as the No. 2 seed, and lost in the conference title game to Masters, 61-56. Weston’s Andrew Chase was injured in the quarterfinals of the tournament, compromising Scott’s six-man rotation.
“I said there’s no way we’re going to win New England with five guys,’’ he said. “Sam Hodge (Fairfield) was just outside our rotation, and he came on and was unbelievably effective. He’s the reason we won.”
In the championship game, Greens Farms took a commanding 34-20 halftime lead and maintained an advantage throughout the second half. Okeke had 14 points and 12 rebounds, while senior guard Matt Tate had five points, six assists and two rebounds.
Baines had 22 points and five rebounds in a 72-59 win over Pingree in the semifinals, while Tate added 18. Djema scored 23 to go with four rebounds and four assists.
The other members of GFA’s team are Brendan Bieder of Fairfield, Redding’s Dugald Shannon, Stamford’s Pat Seegers and Matt Smith of Purchase, N.Y.
Baines won MVP honors for the second straight year. “He’s had a classic metamorphosis,’’ Scott said. “He was a 6-5 athletic kid who played center his whole life. It was hard for him to go from Point A to Point B. Now you’re seeing it pay off. He’s unguardable right now.”
After Sunday’s win, an assistant coach broached the idea of a “3-peat” in 2015. “I said I’m not going there,’’ Scott said. “I’m absorbing this. Last year, the school had never won anything and it was kind of stressful because we knew we had a very good team. This year it was like every day is your birthday. It was just fun.”