HARTFORD>> With both teams firmly in the top 10 of the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register poll for much of the season, this was slated to be the biggest Hartford rivalry game in recent memory.
That is, until the third quarter.
Weaver’s KeAndre Fair, playing on the opposing team as his younger brother Kendal, drained one of his six 3-pointers from the top of the arc to start the second half and the Beavers were off and running.
No. 7 Weaver defeated No. 8 Hartford Public, 75-51 in front of a packed house at the Hartford Public Fieldhouse on Friday.
“[The win] means a lot,” KeAndre Fair said. “Just knowing that it goes back to when our coach (Reggie Hatchett) was here, even further than that it was a rivalry. He gets on us a lot just saying it’s going to be a real big game, there’s going to be a real big crowd, we have to put on a show for them.”
It showed who the best team in the capital city is this season.
Jaecee Martin scored 15 points, had nine steals and five assists. His brother Chaylyn added 13 points, five steals and three assists for the Beavers (17-2).
Jordan Alexander led Hartford Public (17-2) with 10 points, all in the first half.
Weaver led 34-32 at the half, but turned up the intensity on defense as the second half began, ultimately amassing 33 steals total. Jaecee Martin used one of his nine steals to pick the pocket of an Owl ballhandler, take it back the other way and finish while getting fouled. After the free throw the Beavers had a 44-32 lead.
“We mix up our traps,” Weaver coach Reggie Hatchett said. “It’s never the same game to game and all of them are effective, because of the overall team speed.”
KeAndre Fair then went back to work hitting a corner three and on the ensuing possession took a pass from Jaecee Martin and threw down a dunk to ignite the Weaver crowd.
“I think [KeAndre] was affected by the energy early on, but once he settled down he showed that he’s the best player in Hartford and definitely one of the best in Connecticut,” Hatchett said.
By the end of the third quarter the Weaver lead had grown to 63-44, with the last possession by both teams resulting in slams.
The fourth quarter seemed to be played entirely above the rim, but no statement bigger than Chaylyn Martin’s one-handed, throw-down with 4:09 left in the game. The Weaver bench was fired up, Hatchett was fired up and motioning to the crowd to get on their feet. Chaylyn did it one more time before the starters were taken out with the Beavers leading 73-46.
“Blame the coach, I didn’t have them totally prepared,” Hartford Public coach Kurt Reis said.
Hartford Public looked like it was going to compete early on leading 17-11 at the end of the first quarter. KeAndre Fair started slow, but once he hits his first 3 with 7:24 on the clock in the second, he started to heat up.
Shakeem James of Hartford Public hit a three with just over a minute to go in the second and Chevon Grant sank two free throws to get the Owls within two at the break, but that was as close as they would come.
“It’s been a long time since Hartford’s had two relevant teams like this and its bringing out people who played at Weaver, who played at Hartford High,” Hatchett said “To have this resurgence where this is the same type of electricity that used to be in the building all the time, they’re happy to see it return to that.”