WEST HAVEN >> It’s rare that the Notre Dame-West Haven boys basketball team gives up a home game in tiny Alumni Hall. Why do that when it’s a significant home-court advantage?
But the move of Friday’s game against Hamden to the University of New Haven made sense. The last time these two teams met three weeks ago, the game sold out at Hamden High more than an hour before tip-off. It gave more fans a chance to see the second-ranked Green Knights put on a show, led by the senior floor general who has helped make this a special season so far.
The sold-out crowd got its money’s worth: Tremont Waters scorched Hamden for 37 points and Notre Dame stayed undefeated with a 88-70 win before 1,500 at Charger Gymnasium.
“The easy part is your energy is always going to be high,” Notre Dame coach Jason Shea said about the sellout. “The challenge is you still need to be able to execute under those circumstances. I thought we did a really good job of that for about 80 percent of the game.”
The game was sold out about 15 minutes before tip. A large number of people were turned away, some of them sticking around outside the gym, seeing if they could get a peak.
“It’s great. It pumps us up,” senior forward Jalanni White said. “That’s what we want, we want to show off in front of people.”
It was a season-high for Waters, who scored 13 in the fourth quarter to keep Hamden (7-5) at bay. Waters concluded the quarter by beating a double-team — dropping the dribble behind one of the Hamden players and then going around the other way — before pulling up for the three-pointer.
“I tried it once before (in the game) and I failed. It’s instinct, but I wanted to do it,” Waters said.
Waters, who was selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic in April, also shot 15 of 15 from the free-throw line. He’s missed just six all season.
The Green Dragons fell behind 9-2 to start, 27-13 after one quarter and trailed by as many as 24 points in the second. They didn’t go away, cutting the deficit to at least 10 twice.
“They got off to a tremendous start and put us in a hole again early,” Hamden coach Jarrad Beck said. “We made a couple of adjustments at halftime and we were able to follow the game plan a little bit better. But our margin of error at that point was very little and its tough against players of that caliber.”
But as the Green Knights (12-0) have shown throughout, it’s not a one-man show. White had a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) as did Mike Brooks (13 points, 10 rebounds).
After beating both Archbishop Malloy (N.Y.) and Bergen Catholic (N.J.) in consecutive weekends, that’s only added to the team’s collective confidence. And part of that success is due to the focus on each game, not looking too far down the road.
“We are not really worried about that (down the road). We are just going to keep it going,” White said.
Said Shea: “Playing these last two Saturdays against some of the best teams in the Northeast and coming away with beating them has given a lot of our guys confidence that they can play with anybody. … I think it’s important to see the end goal. It’s obvious to everybody what our end goal is. I don think it’s bad to look at it and understand it, but every day we have to work on getting better as a team and that’s our focus,”
It is something the players do discuss amongst themselves often, Waters said.
“I them that it doesn’t matter, all the talking and stuff has nothing to do with what we do on the court,” Waters said. “If we go out there every time and stay inside those black lines, or whatever the color the lines are on the court, then we will be fine.”
C.J. Seaforth helped keep Hamden in it, scoring 14 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. Aidan Carpenter looks to be over his injured wrist, finishing with 15 points and Ronnie Ellis saw his first action since suffering a hairline fracture in his left foot on Jan. 16 against Bassick.
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN 88, HAMDEN 70
(at West Haven)
Hamden 13 13 18 26 – 70
Notre Dame- 27 18 15 28 – 88
CJ Seaforth 8 2-2 22, Aidan Carpenter 5 2-2 15, Eric Lloyd 1 0-0 2, Andrew Kirschenbaum 1 2-2 5, Victor Rosario 2 1-4 6, Nate Morrison 2 0-0 4, Jaylen Ricks 2 0-1 4, Trevor Brandi 0 0-1 0, Ronnie Ellis 3 0-0 7, Douglas Daniels 2 0-0 5. Totals: 26 7-12 70
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN (88)
Tremont Waters 9 15-15 37, Tim Dawson 3 1-2 9, Connor Raines 4 1-2 11, Jalanni White 5 4-6 15, Mike Brooks 4 5-6 13, Evan Blue 1 0-0 3. Totals: 26 26-31 88
3-point goals: Hamden 11 (Seaforth 4, Carpenter 3, Kirschenbaum 1, Rosario 1, Ellis 1, Daniels 1); Notre Dame-West Haven 10 (Waters 4, Dawson 2, Raines 2, White 1, Blue 1); Records: Hamden 7-5; Notre Dame-West Haven 12-0