MIDDLETOWN >> They made three-point baskets, blocked shots, rebounded, and shared the basketball. They even tossed down a pair of dunks just for good measure.
Yup, Xavier flexed its muscles on Thursday, defeating Sheehan 65-47 in a Southern Connecticut Conference tournament first round contest at the Art Kohs Gymnasium.
“We played super,” Xavier coach Mike Kohs said. “Everybody who played tonight all played great.”
The fifth-seeded Falcons (15-6) advance to play No. 4 Hamden (16-5) in the quarterfinals on Saturday (11 a.m.) at Branford High School. The Green Dragons defeated No. 13 East Haven, 63-38.
Reserve forward Scott Marks powered the Falcons balanced scoring attack with 13 points. Senior forward Kaleb Lutton had 11 points and 10 rebounds, while guards Kahleb Downing and Isaiah Gaiter each had nine points.
Senior guard Brandon Rentas had 12 points, while senior guard Chris Gerzabek and senior forward Turner French had eight points apiece for the No. 12 Titans (12-9).
While Sheehan was misfiring on its first 13 field goal attempts, the Falcons got 3-point baskets from John Haberski, Downing, Gaiter and Evan Curtin, who beat the first quarter buzzer, and grabbed a 16-4 lead.
“What I really liked was our guards played very well and we shot the ball well,” Kohs said. “It helped us open up the inside a little bit and they had to come out of their zone.”
Sheehan finally got its first basket when French converted a fast break layup with 6:06 to go in the second quarter.
“That was a very humbling first quarter,” said Sheehan coach Joe Gaetano, now in his 20th season. “We came out extremely cold. I don’t know if their size was a factor but our shots just weren’t good and we paid the price.”
Xavier answered with a drive from Gaiter and a Dan Draffan putback for a 24-6 cushion.
“Xavier gave us a couple of punches in the face in the first quarter and we couldn’t recover,” Gaetano said.
The Titans, who trailed 35-15 at intermission, made a spirited run midway through the third quarter behind a 3-pointer from sophomore Kyle Brennan and consecutive treys from Rentas that closed the gap to 42-28 with 2:58 left in the third.
But the Falcons had too many answers on this night. After Draffan blocked a shot, Gaiter found Downing on the left wing and Downing buried a 3-pointer with five seconds left for a 45-28 lead.
“I decided to go four corners there and Downing’s three was huge,” Kohs added.
Lutton capped Xavier’s big night with a dunk with 1:50 remaining. Junior forward Alex White (eight points) had a breakaway dunk in the third quarter.
“We had a great regular season but now every possession matters,” Kohs said. “You have to take care of the basketball and you have to make smart decisions. And I thought we did a super job with that.”
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