NEW HAVEN >> It’s been a subpar tournament showing for the Southern Connecticut Conference. After starting with 12 teams, just three remain from the league after four days of tournament play.
It’s no surprise that Hillhouse is one of the three left standing. The ninth-seeded Academics’ demolition of No. 25 Harding 77-47 in a Class L state tournament second-round game Thursday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center was over by the end of the third quarter.
“We want to believe we are the banner carrier for the SCC, as well as the city of New Haven,” Hillhouse coach Renard Sutton said.
The SCC will lose another team next Monday in what could be the matchup of the entire Class LL tournament. Hillhouse (20-5) travels to Fairfield to meet top-seeded Fairfield Prep (25-0) four a fourth time and eighth time over the past two seasons. This will be a quarterfinal-round matchup.
Prep has won all three matchups this year, including the SCC championship. Hillhouse won three out of four last season, including both the SCC and Class LL state championships.
“It is amazing to have to see one team eight times in two seasons,” Sutton said. “It defines who we are as a program and who they are as a program. We have a lot of young talent, they have a lot of young talent, so it could end up like this next season has well.”
Hillhouse made a late run to almost steal that SCC title away from the Jesuits on March 5. The Academics will need an even better defensive effort than it put on Thursday.
They will also need a similar balanced scoring effort. Isaiah Lewis had a game-high 22 points and Troy Walters added nine to go along with Hilhouse’s two senior leaders, Raiquan Clark (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Shane Christie (15 points, nine rebounds).
Hillhouse will also need to keep shooting free throws the way it did against Harding (30 of 34) and continue to rebound with authority — the Academics had 36 through three quarters, including 10 in the first three minutes of the second half.
“Normally, we come in the third quarter kind of slow, with a turnover or a blown defensive assignment,” Sutton said. “Today, the focus was there. We felt if we could make a strong push (to start the second half) we could establish a good lead. Rebounding was the key.”
A 20-5 run to close out the third quarter put the game out of reach for Harding (11-11), which didn’t qualify for the FCIAC tournament, but did upset No. 8 Westhill, a FCIAC school, on the road in Tuesday’s opening round.
“ I was confident coming in here,” Harding coach Charles Clemons said. “That’s what I wrote on the board (House Money), no pun intended. But we played like pretty boys and they were more aggressive.
“They were pogo sticks on the backboard. They got multiple shots, that’s demoralizing. When you play good D and you don’t finish (rebound), you have to do it all over again.”
Terrance Rogers led Harding with 15 points.
It was the second straight night the Elm City hosted a team from the Park City (Bridgeport). On Wednesday, Career, the only other SCC team left, beat Kolbe Cathedral 66-60 In the Class L second round.
HILLHOUSE 77, HARDING 47
Harding 9 12 14 12 -47
Hillhouse 11 18 27 21 – 77
Tyrone Killings 1 2-4 5, Zack Steward 2 0-0 6, Terrance Rogers 3 8-12 15, Okoe Narh 0 1-2 1, Eric Moore 3 1-2 8, Kanard Codrington 2 2-4 6, Tyzhon Dixon 1 2-4 4, Ramir Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 13 16-28 47
Joe Kasperzyk 0 2-2 2, Dion Boyd 0 0-0 0, Corey Barrett 1 2-2 5, Troy Walters 3 0-0 9, Donnell Allick Jr. 1 0-0 2, Isaiah Lewis 5 10-12 22, Shane Christie 5 4-4 15, Raiquan Clark 4 9-10 17, Dontell Glover 0 1-2 1, Aaron White 1 2-2 4. Totals: 20 30-34 77
3-point goals: Harding 5 (Killings 1, Steward 2, Rogers 1, Moore 1); Hillhouse 7 (Barrett 1, Walters 3, Lewis 2, Christie 1); Records: Harding 11-11; Hillhouse 20-5