Notre Dame wins battle on SWC unbeatens

Notre Dame’s Jaylen Jennings was a factor all night inside, as the senior scored 20 points and grabbed 12 boards in the Lancers’ win over Bunnell of Stratford. (Photo by David G. Whitham)

Notre Dame’s Jaylen Jennings was a factor all night inside, as the senior scored 20 points and grabbed 12 boards in the Lancers’ win over Bunnell of Stratford.
(Photo by David G. Whitham)

Notre Dame of Fairfield boys basketball coach raced down the bench area slapping hands with his players as the clock wound down on the Lancers’ 71-61 victory over Bunnell of Stratford before 1,000 fans at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on Jan. 27.
“This is a great win when you beat a very good team like that,” Laczkoski said. “With young kids it takes time to get better. It helps when you play a team (Bunnell) of that caliber.”
It was Notre Dame’s sixth straight win, and handed Bunnell its first loss in the last nine outings.
Notre Dame is 7-3 overall and 6-0 in the SWC’s Patriot Division. Bunnell is 9-3 and 6-1 in the SWC.
The Lancers’ Jesse McIntosh made three straight free throws after being fouled shooting from long range to end the third quarter, and Notre Dame took a 48-46 lead into the final period.
Bunnell got within 52-49 on Ryan Pittman’s three-point play off a drive, but Jaylen Jennings scored the next six points.
Pittman scored in traffic, before McIntosh recorded a goal-tending field goal, and added three free throws for a 63-51 lead with 4:33 remaining.
“We have two sophomores n our backcourt in Jesse McIntosh and Jordan Pettway,” Laczkoski said. “With C.J. Davidson and Jake Heaton we have two junior starters and JJ (Jennings) is a senior and an all-league player.
“Anthony Gadsden, a freshman, and sophomore Joe Cantey gave us good minutes off the bench. We were missing (senior) Raphael Torres with an injury.”
The first quarter went as expected, with both teams putting points up at a fast rate.
Darek Wojenski and Pittman made 3-pointers for the Bulldogs, and Davidson and Jennings answered with a combined six points on drives to the basket.
Justin Townsend put in another trey for Bunnell, and Vann scored five straight points on a putback, a floater from the lane and a free throw.
Heaton showed off his hustle and defensive anticipation to get the Lancer back in it.
He went to the floor for one takeaway and then tipped a skip pass to himself, which he turned into a breakaway bucket. McIntosh caught the defensive bug, and his steal and jaw-dropping reverse layup while getting fouled, tied the game at 13.
Townsend and Vann helped stake Bunnell to a big lead, but Heaton nailed a 3-pointer and McIntosh switched hands to finish off a layup and Notre Dame’s deficit was down to 24-17 after one.
Jennings said: “Coach wanted us to lockdown on defense and play hard for thirty two minutes with no regrets. He told us not letting them have a second shot would be key.”
Jennings scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds. McIntosh scored 17, Davidson 13 and Heaton 11.
Bunnell showed good ball movement to find Kendall Streeter open on the wing with Aaron Samuel getting the assist to open the second quarter.
Jennings scored twice inside on transition assists from Davidson and Heaton, who had a three-play off a trap and run out opportunity.
The Bulldogs missed a handful of three-point shots in the period, and the Lancers used a 17-10 run to tie the game at 34 going into the half.
Townsend scored in transition off a Pittman assist to open the third quarter, but after a Wojenski hoop, Notre Dame held the Bulldogs without a point for 3:36.
The Lancers, however, still trailed 46-43, as it also couldn’t find the basket for a stretch of 3:21.
Pettway made two free throws, and at the buzzer, McIntosh drew Vann’s fourth foul on a three-point shot.
McIntosh made all three freebies and Vann had to sit the first three minutes of the fourth quarter.
McIntosh’s free throws gave Notre Dame a 48-46 lead, and it scored on 6-of-8 possessions to open the final frame to establish a 58-51 lead.
Vann returned at the five-minute mark, but the Lancers had stretched their advantage to 66-52 when Vann made a 3-pointer with 2:03 remaining.
The senior scored the next six Bunnell points, but Notre Dame kept pace to maintain its three-possession edge.

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