— Dave Phillips (@davephillips41) December 28, 2019
WEST HAVEN — What was supposed to be one of Notre Dame-West Haven’s biggest tests of the young boys’ basketball season turned out to be far from one at all.
The Green Knights dominated from the opening tip, especially in the rebound department, and blew out previously undefeated Holy Cross, 92-48, before a packed house Friday night at Tonelli Court in the opening night of the second annual Winter Snow Jam.
Notre Dame (3-0) will play Stamford in the championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday. Stamford downed St. Bernard, 70-54, in the first game. Holy Cross and St. Bernard will play at 11 a.m. in the consolation game.
“Our effort was at a high level,” Notre Dame coach Jason Shea. “We did a lot of little things well and clearly we have the ability to hit shots. We played well and they didn’t play their best game.”
The Green Knights had five players in double figures with Zach Laput leading the way with 24 points. Timaury Gay had 15 points, while Ben Carroll, Brett Hutchinson and Tre Rawlins all had 10 apiece.
“We’re unselfish and we just want to win,” Laput said. “Whoever gets the open shot is going to take it.”
Notre Dame, ranked sixth in the GameTimeCT.com boys’ basketball poll, went on a 23-5 run in the first quarter to take control. Laput scored 15 points in the opening quarter as he outscored the Crusaders as the Green Knights took a 31-11 edge after one quarter.
“I’ve seen enough of Notre Dame to know we’re similar in what we want to do,” Holy Cross coach Ryan Olsen said. “They came out and executed it, but we came out and abandoned it. Getting away from what we wanted to do offensively just buried us.”
Notre Dame pushed its lead to 44-17 midway through the second quarter as Laput scored seven straight points to key the surge.
The Green Knights collected nine three-point buckets in the first half and took a 50-22 lead at the break.
“If we’re going to shoot that many threes, it’s really important to get a lot of offensive rebounds,” Shea said. “We don’t want it to be one-and-done.”
The third quarter was much of the same as the first half. After Arthur Pappas closed Holy Cross within 50-24, Notre Dame went on a 20-0 run over 5:08 to grab a 70-24 lead. A layup by Cole Foster of the Crusaders with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter ended the spurt.
Both teams emptied their benches in the fourth quarter.
Akili Evans was the lone Holy Cross player to score in double figures with 18 points.
“I told them tomorrow morning is our biggest game of the year that will tell a big story on what we are and what we’re going to be,” Olsen said. “If we come back and put together a good game, we’re on the right track. If we come back with our heads hung low because of what happened tonight, then it could be a snowball effect in the wrong direction.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Zach Laput, Notre Dame-West Haven scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter.
“It’s great having a team like Holy Cross come in. You want to test the team as much as you can before we get into conference play against the teams who know us so well.”
— Notre Dame-West Haven coach Jason Shea