Fairfield Prep going to the Sun

Keith Pettway (3) gets inside to score as Greenwich's Alex Wolf (44) looks to defend. (David G. Whitham)

Keith Pettway (3) gets inside to score as Greenwich’s Alex Wolf (44) looks to defend.
(David G. Whitham)

Fairfield Prep used a smothering defense and an 11-2 run to end the first half to catapult the Jesuits into the Class LL state championship game with a 59-41 victory over Greenwich High before a crowd of 2,012 at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on Wednesday night.
Coach Leo Redgate’s top-seeded Jesuits (24-0) will play second-seeded Bridgeport Central (23-1) on Saturday night at 8:15 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Hilltoppers defeated sixth-seeded Ledyard High, 67-55 in their semifinal.
“I’m very proud of Fairfield Prep, very proud of the boys,” Redgate said after coaching his team to the state final for the second straight season. “Every year it is a different team that has to build to that moment.”
After Greenwich (21-3) tied the game at 15 on a pair of Griffin Golden free throws at the 4:52 mark of the second period, Prep held the Big Red to 0-for-5 shooting from the floor, and forced two turnovers, to take a commanding 26-15 lead.
“That was huge…That was the seperation that started things,” Greenwich coach Bill Brehm said. “At times we turned the ball over and beat ourselves.”
Keith Pettway, who finished with 12 points and a bushel of assists, began the 11-0 run with a foul-line jumper.
Thomas Nolan (11 points) scored on a spinner from the left side, and after Paschal Chukwu had one of his four blocked shots, and Pettway located Ray Featherton open for a long 3-pointer to run GHS into a timeout.
Greenwich misfired, and Featherton lofted the ball above the rim for Chukwu, who dunked it home for two of his 10 points.
The 7-0 Chukwu blocked a shot by the 6-9 Alex Wolf, and done the other end Pettway used the rim to deny Wolf a shot at his reverse lay-up.
C.J. Byrd, who paced the Cards with 12 points, ended the run, and the half, with a nifty scoop shot in traffic to cut the deficit to 26-17.
“You have to focus so much on him it takes you out of the game,” Brehm said of Paschal, who added 11 rebounds. “He’s certainly evolved from the player he was two years ago at Trinity Catholic. He is double the player he was then.”
“I like our play on the perimeter and I thought Keith’s defense on C.J. was exceptional,” Redgate said.
“Our goal was to stop C.J. and not let one or two guys beat us. At this point in the season you have to take away those guys.”

Prep’s perimeter defense of Pettway, Nolan, Dave Zielinski, Ryan Foley and Patrick Harding made things difficult for GHS.
Brehm said, “Pettway is a great point guard and when you put him with Paschal that’s the difference. Having those good guards helped, and when we looked to double (down low) they hit those threes.”
Foley and Zielinski made 3-pointers to help stake Prep to a 10-9 lead after one quarter, and Zielinski and Featherton hit long-range jumpers in the second period.
Points were harder to come by in the the third quarter, but again the Jesuits limited GHS’ offensive output and outscored the Cards 13-7.
Nolan and Featherton hit treys, Harding, who Redgate credited with being a difference maker, scored off an inbounds play, and Chukwu slammed home his second of four dunks off a pass from Pettway.
Good looks to open the final period resulted in Chukwu’s three-point play and a 41-24 lead.
Zielinski, Pettway and Nolan each made a brace of free throws down the stretch.

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