MERIDEN >> Notre Dame-West Haven already had an impressive basketball team returning, losing just one starter, Register All-State selection Ben Bagnoli.
Then to have another point guard transfer into the school in mid-August simply made the Green Knights that much better. But Tremont Waters isn’t just any other point guard.
A national recruit with seven Division I scholarship offers in hand, Waters, a New Haven native and resident, transferred in from South Kent prep school. In his second game, Waters poured in 26 points as fourth-ranked Notre Dame defeated Newington 81-58 in the second annual CPTV Classic at Maloney High.
“We still have a lot more room to improve, still have things to tweak as far as rebounding, when to push the ball, when to slow it up, turnovers and our defense because our offense is clicking,” said Waters, who signed a national letter of intent to play at Georgetown next fall.
Said Notre Dame coach Jason Shea: “ He has a really good sense of when he needs to score and when he needs to distribute the ball. He has a such high basketball IQ and such a good feel for the game that he reads those situations very well.”
Notre Dame (2-0) had five players reach double figures in Saturday’s season-opening win against Greenwich. Jalanni White and Tim Dawson each had 17 points against Newington.
“We have a lot of answer off the bench. We have guys who aren’t even playing who would start on most teams in the state,” Shea said.
Similar to the Greenwich game, Notre Dame jumped out to a big lead, 19-6 before the first quarter was complete. But Newington didn’t fold.
Only guard Jared Simmons returns from last year’s undefeated regular season and Class L state semifinals. The Indians (0-2) answered with an 11-2 run of their own to cut the deficit to 21-17.
Newington hung around into the second half as Matt McKinnon (team-high 23 points) scored eight straight points in the third quarter.
“I love the intensity of our team and I love the chemistry we have. It’s just a matter of getting them some minutes,” Newington coach Scott Wenzel said. “No matter what you throw at him (Waters), he will be able to score. The other guys complement him very well.”
A 16-6 run put Notre Dame up 56-41 with under 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
“You clearly saw in the second half a different defensive intensity, and that disrupted Newington quite a bit and got us going,” Shea said. “Our five guys who came back (Chuck Dikko, White, Dawson, Connor Raines and Mike Brooks), they’re all experienced, all good players and all play hard.”
And Waters, who played in the same AAU outfit a Simmons but for an older age group, volunteered to guard the returning Register All-Stater.
“Whatever I do, my team will feed off of it. If I’m able to lock their best player down, my team wins,” said Waters, who added seven steals and six assists. “You can’t leave (Simmons) open and you can’t slip up on him. He is definitely quick. You can’t leave him open for threes.”
Notre Dame play it first home game Friday night against former SCC Quinnipiac Division rival Fairfield Prep in what is expected to be a sellout.
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN 81, NEWINGTON 58
Newington 10 17 20 11 – 58
Notre Dame-WH 19 16 25 21 – 81
Jared Simmons 4 3-4 13, Cooper Johnson 3 0-0 7, Louis Egbuna 1 0-1 2, JP DeCastro 2 0-0 6, Matt McKinnon 8 7-8 23, Isaac Ortiz 2 0-0 4, Nate Alleyne 1 1-2 3. Totals: 21 11-15 58
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN (81)
Tremont Waters 11 0-0 26, Jalanni White 7 2-2 17, Mike Brooks 2 0-0 4, Connor Raines 3 3-5 9, Chuck Dikko 0 1-2 1, Evan Blue 2 0-0 4, Jaiden Kimbro 1 1-1 3, Tim Dawson 6 1-2 17. Totals: 32 8-12 81
3-point goals: Newington 5 (Simmons 2, Johnson 1, DeCastro 2); Notre Dame-West Haven 9 (Waters 4, White 1, Dawson 4); Fouled out: Newington (Nate Alleyne); Records: Notre Dame-West Haven 2-0
Notes: Jalanni White with 17 points and 8 rebounds.