Notre Dame edged out by Bethel in semis

Notre Dame's Dan Upchurch takes aim at the basket during the Lancers' 75-67 SWC semifinal loss to Bethel High in Newtown on Tuesday night Upchurch scored 30 points. (Photo by Bill Bloxsom)

Notre Dame’s Dan Upchurch takes aim at the basket during the Lancers’ 75-67 SWC semifinal loss to Bethel High in Newtown on Tuesday night Upchurch scored 30 points.
(Photo by Bill Bloxsom)

“How can I not be proud of how my kids recovered,” Notre Dame of Fairfield boys basketball coach Vin Laczkoski said after the third-seeded Lancers lost to second-seeded Bethel High, 75-67,  in the South-West Conference boys basketball semifinals in Newtown on Tuesday. “Hats off to Bethel. They could have easily collapsed, but they didn’t.”
Bethel earned its first trip to the SWC title game, as it traded the lead with Notre Dame (15-6) six times in the final period, after the Lancers had rallied back from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter.
Bethel (19-2) will play at host Bunnell of Stratford (20-2) for the championship Thursday at 7:30. The top-seeded Bulldogs defeated fourth-seeded Kolbe Cathedral, 80-52 in their semifinal.
Notre Dame’s C.J. Davidson’s bumper-car-like drive through traffic resulted in a basket, and gave Notre Dame a 65-64 lead with 1:33 remaining.
The game had been tied eight times — but the next lead change would stick.
Bethel’s Matt Liquori found himself free inside for a layup, and Notre Dame missed shots on its next two trips down court.
Calvin Daniels scored for the Wildcats, but Dan Upchurch’s drive made it a 70-67 game with 27 seconds left.
Laczkoski called for time and got the foul he wanted, and Bethel missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Earl Coleman rebounded the miss, but Upchurch’s game-tying attempt from beyond the arc was short.
Bethel’s Daniel Garvin then sealed the win with two free throws.
Garvin, who will play for Division I Bryant University, finished the game with 30 points, 23 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Ten of Garvin’s points came in the final three-plus minutes, and the 6-6 forward was 8-of-10 from the foul line.
“We had a mental flaw, we wanted a different defense, and they capitalized with a layup,” Laczkoski said. “Bethel has a bunch of talented seniors and juniors. You have to give them credit.”
Bethel coach Ray Turek was impressed by Notre Dame.
“They’re almost impossible to defend,” Turek said of Upchurch and Coleman. “They’re so fast and they wear you down. We even went to a zone trying to keep them out of the paint. In this case, they got a couple of our guards in foul trouble. It’s constant pressure on your guards.”
Coleman, who had 15 rebounds to go with his 20-point performance, muscled in an offensive rebound to tie the game at 11 after one period.
Upchurch, who scored 30 points and delivered big shot after big shot, scored 10 points in the second quarter. He was 13-for-14 from the foul line.
Bethel took a 32-30 lead into the half, and extended it to 48-36 at the five-minute mark of the third period.
Notre Dame upped its pressure on the ball coming out of a timeout, and the Lancers went on a 11-1 run behind multiple points from Coleman, Upchurch and Jake Heaton.
Garvin banked in a shot from distance in the final second, but the Bethel lead was down to 53-50 with one period to play.
Four lead changes later, Bethel was on to the final.

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