Murphy, Nolan lead Prep into SCC finals

Ryan Murphy (4) scored 25 points when Fairfield Prep came from behind to defeat Wilbur Cross in the SCC semifinals on Monday. (Photo by Bill Bloxsom)

Ryan Murphy (4) scored 25 points when Fairfield Prep came from behind to defeat Wilbur Cross in the SCC semifinals on Monday.
(Photo by Bill Bloxsom)

Fairfield Prep freshman Ryan Murphy and Wilbur Cross junior Josh Fleming carried on a running commentary to go with their shooting dual, when the backcourt stars traded hoops before the second-seeded Jesuits defeated the third-seeded Governors, 68-59, in a hotly contested SCC  basketball semifinal game at East Haven High on Monday night.
Coach Leo Redgate’s team will play top-seeded Hillhouse of New Haven (21-1), a 63-49 winner over fourth-seeded Notre Dame of West Haven (15-6)  in the championship game tonight at 7 at the TD Bank Sports Center on the campus of Quinnipiac University.
Prep is 21-1 and Wilbur Cross is 18-4.
Murphy finished the game with 25 points, 11 in the final period when Prep completed a come back from a 15-0 deficit with a 26-14 run.
Thomas Nolan’s pull-up 3-pointer from the right of the key caught nothing but net to give the Jesuits their first lead, 49-47, at the 6:51 mark of the final frame.
With Prep junior forward Paschal Chukwa (10 blocked shots, 10 rebounds, eight points) challenging all shots, even those from the foul line, Wilbur Cross had trouble putting together a run of its own.
Tim Butala knocked down a trey from the corner off a Nolan assist to break the game’s only tie at 49, and Murphy delivered home a left-handed drive through traffic.
After Chukwu picked up his fourth foul attempting to block his second shot during Wilbur Cross’ next possession, Nolan (12 points) followed Murphy’s lead and took it to the rim for a 55-50 lead.
Murphy scored on a putback, and after Butala stole the ball in the lane, Murphy hit a floater.
Fleming, who riddled the nets for 33 points and buried five 3-pointers, kept the Governors in it with a 3-pointer to make it a 59-53 game with three minutes remaining.
Wilbur Cross called for time here, and Redgate had his cagers run their sets and force the Governors to foul three times to put the Jesuits on the foul line.
After Butala (13 points) scored off an inbounds play, Fleming knocked down another trey, but in the final two minutes, Murphy and David Zielinski were each 3-for-4 from the stripe.
Fleming scored 11 points to pace Wilbur Cross to a 16-1 lead after one period.
Murphy’s rainbow jumper accounted for Prep’s first field goal 47 seconds into the second quarter, and he followed with a 3-pointer.
Zielinski and Ryan Foley made 3-pointers to cut into the deficit and Wilbur Cross took a 32-22 lead into the locker room.
Prep scored on its first four possessions of the third quarter — on a Butala foul-line jumper, Murphy’s baseline drive, Chukwu’s drop-step bucket, and Butala’s break-away after a steal at midcourt.
The Jesuits continued to force turnovers, only to give the ball back with poor decisions.
With Wilbur Cross in front 39-32 at the three-minute mark, Nolan scored on a drive, assisted on two baskets, and made a brace of free throws to draw Prep within 45-42 with eight minutes remaining.

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