Notre Dame battles Career Magnet in Tip-Off tourney

Notre Dame-Fairfield’s boys basketball team hung close with Career Magnet throughout the first two quarters of the championship game of the South-West Conference Tip-Off Tournament on Dec. 19.
Trailing only 40-35 at the half, the Lancers saw the Panthers pull away in the second half for an 82-63 victory at Sacred Heart University’s Pitt Center.
Notre Dame was led by a trio of players in double figures as Jordan Pettway, Clinton Davidson and Jake Heaton scored 19, 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Career was paced by tourney MVP Tyrell Eaddy and Kevin Smith, each of whom scored 17, along with All Tournament selection Tyreek Perkins, who added 16.
Pettway and Davidson also received All Tournament honors.
Career dominated on the glass, pulling down a majority of rebounds on both ends of the floor, and capitalizing on the offensive end with second- and third-chance points, as well as on the defensive end with rebounds sparking fast-break opportunities.
In the game, both teams got to the free throw line for 20-plus opportunities; the Lancers were 15-for-21, and Career was 15-for-24.
Down 21-15 late in the fast-paced first quarter, the Lancers sliced the deficit in half when Jesse McIntosh got an offensive rebound and hit a step-back 3-pointer with just a few seconds remaining.
Career pulled ahead for a 35-25 lead before the Lancers chipped away to pull to within three points late in the opening half.
Justin Federici took a feed from Heaton and scored to get the Lancers within 38-33 before Pettway drew a foul and canned both free throws to make it one-possession contest with 36 seconds left.
Career got a late-quarter basket to carry a 40-35 advantage into the break.
“We showed we can play with them for 16 minutes,” said Notre Dame coach Vin Laczkoski, noting that Career physically bigger players under the rim, which caused problems for his team in the rebounding department.
“They killed us there. They must have gotten three shots every time in the second half.”
The Panthers scored the first two baskets of the second half, both off putbacks, and established an 11-point cushion early in the third.
The Lancers trailed by nine late in the third but Career scored the final five points of the quarter to take a 14-point advantage, 62-48, into the fourth.
Laczkoski believes the tough competition stands to help his team as the season progresses, especially since he can count on his players putting forth a good effort.
“I’ve got a good group of kids – they play hard,” he said.
Notre Dame defeated Kaynor Tech, 86-51, in the Tip-Off opener.
The Lancers host Kolbe Cathedral tonight at 7 at Sacred Heart University and then will compete in the Fairfield Prep Christmas Tournament alongside the Jesuits, Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe on Dec. 26-27.

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