FAIRFIELD >> Fairfield Prep’s basketball team used a stifling defensive effort, good passing and sharp shooting to defeat visiting Fairfield Ludlowe 70-48 in the quarterfinal round of the Class LL state tournament, at sold out and noisy Alumni Hall, on Friday.
The top-seeded Jesuits advance to face No. 5 Hillhouse in the March 17 semifinals, and the No. 8 Falcons saw their solid campaign come to an end.
Prep got 20 points from Richard Kelly, 18 from Ryan Foley, 11 from Thomas Nolan and eight from Patrick Harding.
Prep hit seven 3-pointers, four of which came in the first quarter when the Jesuits built a 26-9 lead. Kelly hit a trio of shot from downtown and Foley knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.
“We just got behind the eight ball and had a hard time recovering,” said Ludlowe coach John Dailey, noting that he was proud of his team’s continued effort and never-give-up attitude.
Ludlowe fell behind 44-18 at the half and traded baskets with Prep throughout much of the third and fourth quarters.
The Jesuits got their open looks from the outside thanks to crisp and quick ball movement, and also drove to the rim with success. Much of Prep’s success, Coach Leo Redgate and company note, can be attributed to its tight defense.
“Before every game we say ‘defense, defense, defense,’” Nolan said. “Our defense leads to our offense. We share the ball really well which is what basketball is about.”
“We executed exactly what we wanted to do. I was very happy with the energy,” said Redgate, adding that the Jesuits were very unselfish with the ball on the offensive end and succeeded in taking the Falcons out of their comfort zone when the visitors had the ball.
“They took us out of what we wanted to run offensively,” Dailey said.
The Ludlowe coach credited the Jesuits for causing his team problems with and without possession.
Dailey said his squad tried to play zone defense early on, then switched to a man-to-man style of guarding and neither worked.
“They were on a different level,” Dailey said.
The Falcons were led by Matthew Doyle with 13 points, Cole Prowitt-Smith with 11, Chad Peterson with eight, Hayes Kelchner with six, and Darren Lee with five.
Dailey said he’ll miss seniors Owen Mockler, Doyle, Lee, Timothy Berardino, Brendan Mockler, Chad Peterson, and Steven Zembbruski.
“They were just unbelievable kids. It’s been an absolute pleasure coaching them,” Dailey said. “I’m very, very said tonight because it’s over.”
The Ludlowe coach notes that his team had a memorable season, posting 15 regular-season wins and reaching the state quarterfinals.
“We had an unbelievable season – so many accomplishments,” Dailey said.
He thought the atmosphere at Alumni Hall may have factored into the game a bit since the Jesuits, runners-up in the state tourney in each of the last two years, are more accustomed to playing big games in front of large crowds.
The Ludlowe coach added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Prep, which lost just once this winter, win the title this year.
“When we execute our game plan we’re tough to beat,” said Redgate, adding that the Falcons have a lot to be proud of for also putting together such a good season.
FAIRFIELD PREP 70, FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 48
Fairfield Ludlowe 9 9 17 13 – 48
Fairfield Prep 26 18 16 10 – 70
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE (48)
Matt Doyle 5 3-4 13, Chad Peterson 1 4-4 7, Darren Lee 1 2-2 5, Hayes Kelchner 2 2-4 7, Greg Lawrence 1 0-0 2, Owen Mockler 1 0-0 2, Cole Prowitt-Smith 4 1-1 11, Chris Howell 0 1-2 1. Totals: 15 13-17 48
FAIRFIELD PREP (70)
Thomas Nolan 5 0-1 11, Ryan Foley 8 0-0 18, Rich Kelly 7 3-4 20, Patrick Harding 4 0-0 8, Joe DiGennaro 2 0-1 4, Matt Gerics 1 0-0 3, Will Lucas 1 0-0 2, Bobby Hoskins 1 0-0 2, John Murphy 1 0-0 2. Totals: 30 3-6 70
3-point goals: Fairfield Ludlowe 5 (Peterson 1, Lee 1, Kelchner 1, Prowitt-Smith 2); Fairfield Prep 7 (Nolan 1, Foley 2, Kelly 3, Gerics 1).