WEST HAVEN – Notre Dame sophomore Zach Laput likes to arrive early to master his craft. The hard work and preparation paid off immensely for Laput.
Scoring the first eight points of a 13-point Notre Dame run in the third quarter, Laput helped break a tie and led the eighth-seeded Green Knights to a 63-34 victory over No. 9 Cheshire in the opening round of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament at Notre Dame Thursday evening.
With the victory, Notre Dame (15-6) will play top-seeded Wilbur Cross in the SCC quarterfinals Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Branford High.
“He is the hardest working player in the state of Connecticut,” Notre Dame coach Jason Shea said of Laput. “He is in the gym at 6 a.m. He puts the time in. They took Connor (Raines) away with a box and one. But, we have other weapons. We were perfectly fine going with them.”
With the game even at 23 after Cheshire went on a 7-0 run, the Green Knights, specifically Laput, answered in emphatic fashion.
Laput started the run with a 3-pointer with 2:40 gone by in the third quarter for a 26-23 lead, followed with a basket, then added another 3-pointer with 4:10 remaining in the quarter for a 31-23 advantage. When Trevon Setzer-Smith followed with a bucket and Connor Raines closed the run with a 3-pointer, Notre Dame held a 36-23 advantage with 3:05 to go in the third.
— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) February 23, 2018
“We had to step it up,” Laput said. “We were able to get a little bit of a run going. Coach Shea helped us pick up our intensity. We moved it up 100 percent.”
After Cheshire stopped the run, a bucket by Raines and a 3-pointer by Evan Blue gave the Green Knights a 16-point lead with 1:18 left in the third. The Rams never got closer as Raines increased Notre Dame’s lead to 49-29, before the Green Knights went on a 12-0 run to increase the margin to 29.
“They are pretty big inside,” Cheshire coach Dan Lee said of Notre Dame. “We did a good job containing them, then they started raining 3’s. You can’t cover everything. They scored 40 points in the second half.”
The Rams started the game in fine fashion, taking a 9-6 lead on a basket by James Pettit. Trailing 10-8, the Green Knights took the lead with an 8-point run, with four points coming from Jaiden Kimbro.
— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) February 22, 2018
Pettit started the seven-point run by the Rams with a 3-pointer with five seconds left in the second quarter, hit a bucket to open the third, and watched as another bucket by Eric Angelone evened the game at 23.
“Our guys worked hard tonight,” Shea said. “Give Cheshire credit. We were able to run our defense and we tightened it up to hold them to 34 points. When you do that, you are doing something right on the defensive end.”
Laput and Alec Kinder each scored 14 for Notre Dame, while Raines and Kimbro each added nine. Aidan Godfrey led Cheshire with 10 points, while Pettit and Angelone each had eight.
Notre Dame-WH 63, Cheshire 34
CHESHIRE10 9 7 8—34
ND-WEST HAVEN12 11 21 19—63
James Pettit 3 0-0 8, Matt Rosadino 0 1-2 1, Eric Angelone 3 0-0 8, Ben DeLaubell 2 0-0 4, Aiden Godfrey 4 2-6 10, Alec Frione 1 0-0 3, Totals 13 3/8 34.
Connor Raines 4 0-1- 9, Mike Brooks 4 0-1 8, Zach Laput 5 0-0 14, Jaiden Kimbro 4 0-0 9, Alec Kinder 6 2-4 14, Evan Blue 3 0-0 7, Trevon Setzer Smith 1 0-0 2, Totals 27 2/6 63.
Threes: Cheshire-Pettit 2, Angelone 2, Frione 1; ND-Raines 1, Laput 4, Kimbro 1,Blue 1. Notes: Brooks 8 rebounds for Notre Dame.