BRIDGEPORT — They said it was just another game. Right, sure, it was.
Both Notre Dame-Fairfield and Kolbe Cathedral might have talked about how this was just one game on the schedule. But if you were one of the 1,200 or so that packed into the Harvey Hubbell gym Friday night, you know otherwise.
This one was intense from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Not only was this a key SWC battle, it was two Catholic schools battling for local bragging rights. And thanks to Tyler Bourne, who scored 13 of his game-high 27 points in an electric second quarter that gave the Lancers the momentum and a double-digit halftime lead, Notre Dame turned up that intensity over the second half and rolled to an 85-61 victory over the Cougars at the Hub.
“We didn’t want to overhype the game, we understand that it’s another game and I think Tyler understood that most of all,” Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Chris Watts said. “Tyler’s played in so many of these kinds of games. I think we’re a better team when we’re not watching Tyler do things one-on-one. When we started running our offense and making their defense move, we were able to do a lot more things.”
Still, it’s a lot of fun to see Bourne race through the Kolbe Cathedral defense like a hot knife through butter. After the Crusaders battled tooth and nail through the opening eight minutes to trail just 14-12 after one quarter, Bourne personally started a 14-7 run – scoring 10 straight points and 12 of the Lancers next 14 – as ND opened a 28-19 lead with 4:23 left before halftime.
“It was just in the flow of the game. There was no extra motivation,” Bourne said. “Nothing really changed, we just got off to a slow start and we just picked up like we do all the time.”
Thanks to Bourne’s 17 halftime points, the Lancers held a 42-32 halftime lead and when ND came out energized in the third quarter, scoring 20 points and holding Kolbe Cathedral to just 14, the lead heading into the final eight minutes was a whopping 16 points, 62-46.
The matchup between @NDFFLD and @KolbeCougars was so big that they had to move it to the University of Bridgeport. In front of a PACKED crowd, The Lancers proved again why they are the #2 team in the state with a 85-61 victory. #ctbb@BEHSFANSECTION pic.twitter.com/oTwd3wjqAL
— CT Sports Now (@CT_Sports_Now) February 3, 2018
“I think we kind of rushed a bit on offense in the second quarter and their defense was better, you’ve got to give them credit for that,” Kolbe Cathedral coach John Pfohl said. “For us, it’s about gaining experience, understanding in these kind of games of what we have to do. This was a great learning experience for us.”
“The kids understand that every night, we’re going to get everyone’s best and tonight it was Kolbe’s best,” Watts said. “We knew they were a real athletic team and we were going to get their best and we knew that if we could control our emotions in the first quarter and play our game, we’d be able to build on something.”
And Notre Dame did. The Lancers big three of Bourne, Noreaga Davis and Josh Reaves combined for 69 points as the Lancers powered to the victory.
“Those three kids are very talented, there’s no question and they’re all good in different ways, they cause a lot of trouble for people,” Pfohl said. “You try and mix up how you play them, try to deny them the ball, double them, whatever. At times, it was successful and when it wasn’t, they made the plays.”
Along with Bourne’s 27, both Davis and Reaves had 21 for the Lancers, who improved to 14-0 on the season and 8-0 in the SWC. Kolbe fell to 11-3 overall, 6-2 in the SWC. Quinton Sneed scored 15 to lead Kolbe with Naz Vereen adding 13 and Anthony Senior 11 for the Crusaders. Trailing by just 10 at halftime, Notre Dame used a 43-29 second half to take control.
“We tried to switch up our defenses as much as we could, stay in rebounding position and hold them to one shot,” Watts said. “Early on, they were getting the 50-50 balls which allowed them to get second and third shots. It seemed like they wanted it more. They were hustling more than we were and in the second half, the guys realized that if we play our game, which is pressure, pressure, pressure and run, run, run, we could wear them down.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
ND-Fairfield’s Tyler Bourne. The senior guard scored 13 of his 27 points in the second quarter as the Lancers opened a 42-32 halftime lead and never looked back.
“I thought they really hurt us on the offensive glass and made us take tough shots. When we ran our stuff, we got whatever we wanted, that wasn’t the problem, the problem was we got beat on the defensive glass.” – Kolbe coach John Pfohl on the loss to ND-Fairfield.
SAME PLACE, NEXT WEEK
The two teams will play at the Harvey Hubbell gym next Saturday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. This time, it’s Kolbe’s ‘home’ game.
ND-FAIRFIELD 85, KOLBE CATHEDRAL 61
ND-FAIRFIELD (14-0, 8-0 SWC)
Damion Medwinter 1 0-0 2, Woodley Monnexant 3 0-0 7, Xavier Giddens 0 1-2 1, Noreaga Davis 8 3-4 21, Rodney Medor 2 0-0 4, Josh Reaves 9 3-3 21, Tyler Bourne 8 8-11 27, Stone Appleberg 1 0-0 2. Totals: 32 15-20 85
KOLBE CATHEDRAL (11-3, 6-2 SWC)
Evan Coleman 2 0-0 5, Anthony Senior 4 0-0 11, Jordan Slayton 0 0-0 0, Quinton Sneed 0 0-0 0, Demetrius Gordon 3 0-2 6, Kyle Federici 2 2-5 6, Justin Leigh 0 0-0 0, Jason Smith 1 0-0 2, Brendan Gadsden 0 0-0 0, Daniel Willington 0 1-2 1, Teashawn Sanchez 1 0-0 2, Jaden Mclellan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 11-23 61.
ND-FAIRFIELD 14 28 20 23—85
KOLBE 12 20 14 15—61
3-pointers: NDF – Monnexant, Bourne 3, Davis 2, KC – Senior 3, Coleman