Prep holds off East Hartford, advances to Class LL final

The top-seeded Fairfield Prep basketball team defeated fifth-seed East Hartford, 78-75, in the Class LL semifinals on Tuesday night at Wilby High in Waterbury.

With the victory, Jesuits advanced to face second-seeded Hillhouse in the state final this weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville. The Academics crushed No. 19 seed Xavier High of Middletown, 57-34, in the other semifinal.

The Hornets made Prep work for it on Tuesday night, erasing a 15-point second half deficit and tying the game at 73 on Nick Fenton’s baseline floater with 56 seconds left to play.

A scoop shot from Paschal Chukwu and a foul shot from Tim Butala armed Prep with a 76-73 lead with 19.3 seconds left, but Hornets’ swingman Kahari Beaufort was fouled by Chukwu attempting a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining.

Beaufort, who fueled East Hartford’s comeback with 13 second-half points, missed the first free throw, but knocked down the next two.

Prep reserve Ryan Foley, who replaced Chukwu after the seven-foot center picked up his fifth foul on Beaufort’s 3-point attempt, then dropped in a layup off of Ryan Murphy’s cross-court feed with a tick over four seconds left.

East Hartford had a chance to force overtime, but Fenton’s desperation heave fell short, setting up the fourth showdown of the season between Hillhouse and Prep.

Butala scored a game-high 21 points for the Jesuits, while Nolan added 18. Chukwu chipped in with 12 points and Dave Zielinski had 10 off the bench.

Fenton led East Hartford with 18 points, while Colins Nwafor scored 16. Casey Farmer notched 15 points.

For the full game story, check out this week’s Sun.

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