MIDDLETOWN >> Defense, defense, defense.
That’s how Xavier defeated Ledyard 62-45 in the opening round of the Art Kohs Christmas Tournament played at Xavier Friday evening.
“Our defense was outstanding,” said Xavier coach Mike Kohs who saw his team improve to 2-0. “I saw Ledyard against Bloomfield and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to stop their big guy [Greg Darnay] in the middle. But my kids did a great job.”
Kohs said that his team got a little holiday help from his friends.
“Our basketball alumni are back for the holidays and they came in to practice against our kids to prepare them to go up against their big kid,” he said.”That was a big help. Tonight we worked on denying him the ball and when he got it, we doubled him.”
Darnay had 15 points, but was a non-factor. The guys who were factors were the guys with Xavier on their uniform.
“We figured we needed 20 from Elijah [Pemberton] and 15 or so from Thomas [Jackson],” said Kohs. “I think we got better than that.”
Pemberton had 30 points and Jackson had 14. In this fouled-filled game, the Falcons were brilliant from the free throw line,making 20-of-29. Pemberton was 14-of-16.
“We got very good minutes from kids off the bench,” said Kohs. “We played without Brandon MacPherson [injury; two weeks], so we needed Dan Draffan and Kaleb Downing and others to step up. They did. They played their butts off.”
Ledyard (2-1)led 11-8 after one and it wasn’t until the 5 minute mark of the second quarter that the Falcons drew even at 13-13. Xavier led 22-18 at the half and Pemberton had 11 points. But that was just prologue to what came next.
The Falcons opened the second half with a 9-0 run, and extended that to 16-1. Game over.
Xavier led 44-29 after three.
East Hartford won the first game of the night, beating Glastonbury 70-56. Glastonbury will play Ledyard in the consolation game tonight at 5:30.
Xavier will play East Hartford in what ought to be a very interesting championship game at 7:15.