FAIRFIELD >> The Notre Dame of Fairfield and Morgan girls’ basketball teams won’t see each other come postseason time, as each play in different conferences and state brackets.
But Wednesday’s final regular-season game provided a good test for both program’s heading into their respective tournaments.
Morgan, the No. 1 seed going into the Shoreline Conference Tournament and Class M, shook off a slow start to build a 12-point halftime lead and never trailed from there.
The Huskies defeated ND-Fairfield 57-42 to finish the regular season 20-0.
“We didn’t want to go into Shorelines and states with a loss, so it is a big win for us,” Morgan head coach Joe Grippo said. “But we still got a lot of work that is left to be done. I’m sure they (ND) feel that way right now, too.”
The victory for No. 7 Morgan and Grippo marked the first undefeated regular season in program history. Grippo said he’s been coaching over 30 years, and to accomplish this feels great.
“My seniors have really set the tone all year long, my starters are great, Riley Thompson coming off the bench, I’m just really, really proud, because we just beat a very high-quality program,” Grippo said. “I have a lot of respect for their coach and the way that they play.”
After trailing 7-2 early in the contest, Morgan made some adjustments and was able to go on a run to close out the first quarter with a 17-14 lead.
“I don’t know why we came out slow,” Grippo said. ” We’re usually a pressing, running team, but we still ran, we just couldn’t press. Their guards were really good, they passed the ball really well, they attacked it very well. I just took the press off, started running our defense at half court.”
A defensive change, coupled with a good spaced out offense, led by guard Sami Ashton, helped propel Morgan to a dominant 34-22 halftime advantage.
“I think what happened, is their offense had such good spacing and kept such good pressure on us, that at periods of time they became difficult to guard and that’s what good teams do,” ND-Fairfield head coach Eric DeMarco said. “They knocked down shots. I thought we got a lot of good shots that we have been knocking down in the past, we just didn’t knock down tonight.”
Aston scored 15 of her game-high 19 points in the first half for Morgan as she did a nice job of controlling the offense for the Huskies.
“There are few really good point guards in the state, I don’t know if anybody is better than driving and dishing and controlling the ball, than No. 10, Sami Ashton,” DeMarco said.
Teammate Jen Dawson poured in 16 points.
Notre Dame was paced by Taylor Ceballos’ 11 points.
“It’s a good test,” DeMarco said of the game. “At times we did enough good things to make them work hard, but they made us work hard for everything.”
Notre Dame (16-4) will now prepare for the South-West Conference Tournament. The Lancers are the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 Barlow on Saturday at Newtown at 5 p.m.
“I tell you right now, I pick them (ND-Fairfield) to win Class S,” Grippo said. “I think they’re good enough to run the table there.”