Boys basketball: Prep beats press, routs Hamden

Top-seeded Fairfield Prep solved fourth-seeded Hamden’s pressure defense, pulling away in the second half in a 68-51 win in the SCC boys basketball semifinals on Monday at East Haven High.

The Jesuits (21-1), making their third straight SCC finals appearance, will take on third-seeded Career Magnet (20-3) in the championship game at the TD Bank Sports Center at Quinnipiac University in Hamden on Wednesday night at 7.

“It was a war, basically.” Prep head coach Leo Redgate said. “I credit Hamden, they kept fighting, they kept pressuring us… I don’t think they were going to get much out of their press in the fourth quarter (trailing in the contest)… It’s a great learning moment for our team.”

Thomas Nolan powered Prep into the final with 20 points, while junior guard Rich Kelly added 18 and Ryan Foley 10.

A brace of free throws by Blair Johnson got Hamden (17-6) within a basket at 40-38 with 3:32 left in the third quarter. From there, Prep embarked on a 17-2 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Nolan and Kelly, to push its lead to 57-40 with just over four minutes left to play in the game.

Hamden’s press kept it in the game in the first half, with a jumper from Dylan Noble narrowing the gap to 27-24 with 1:51 left in the second quarter. The Jesuits finished the half strong, reeling off a 7-2 flurry to push their margin to 34-26 at the break.

“They are a fast, hard-playing team,” Nolan said of Hamden. “We knew that coming in. The press is something that they threw at us that was new. Once we knew we had to get it to the middle of the floor, we started breaking it easy in the second half and it gave us a couple of easy buckets.”

A 3-pointer from C.J. Seaforth and Johnson’s foul shots made it a one-possession game, but Prep answered over the final 11 minutes to secure its spot in the league final.

“I thought our defense was phenomenal,” Redgate said.

 

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