HAMDEN >> Wednesday night’s Southern Connecticut Conference tournament final outcome ended up being a one-sided affair.
And no, it wasn’t the defending champion and top seed this year on the winning side.
Instead, it was No. 3 seed Career excelling on both ends of the floor, taking it to Fairfield Prep and claiming the league championship 81-59 at the TD Bank Sports Center before 1,108.
“This is the fastest team I have ever had,” said Career coach Larry Kelley, who has been the head coach since the 2007-08 season. “What I have been saying the last 5-6 games is, ‘Let’s trust.’ Trust means on defense and on offense. To get to where they want to go and what they want to accomplish, they know they need their teammates.”
The margin of victory was tied for fifth most in the 21-year history of the tournament – but it felt like so much more.
“You talk about peaking at the right time and stuff like that, I guess we got our ducks lined up to make a little run (in the state tournament). I don’t know how far, but we are going to go at it,” Kelley said.
Prep coach Leo Redgate felt it was over at halftime for the Jesuits (21-2), who beat Career twice during the regular season. Career started the game scoring 12 of the first 16 points and outscored Prep 20-8 in the second quarter to take a 37-18 halftime lead.
The Jesuits shot 0 of 10 from 3-point range in the first half and 28 percent (7 of 25) overall from the floor. In turn, Career shot 45.5 percent, most of the points coming on easy penetrations to the basket.
“If we rebounded the ball better (Prep also gave up seven offensive first-half rebounds) and hit some of those shots, it may be a 5- or 6-point game at halftime,” Redgate said.
“Ultimately, you look at the numbers, the numbers don’t lie. … When you play defense man up and guys go right by you, it’s not surprising, it’s disappointing. We got our butts kicked by a much better team than we were. We haven’t been playing well since we beat them at Alumni Hall (84-71 on Feb. 20).”
Also consider Career built that 19-point halftime lead with leading scorer Tyreek Perkins not scoring a single point.
“My team picked me up when I was in foul trouble,” Perkins said. “Coach always says, ‘How you practice is how you will come out for the game.’ We are excited, but we are ready to put this behind us and move onto the (Class L) state tournament and try to win at Mohegan (Sun Arena, site of the state finals).”
Justin Campbell had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers (21-3), who win their third league title and first since 2012. Tyrell Eaddy, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, finished with 10 points and five assists.
“You have to stay together and play together,” Eaddy said. “They started to miss a lot of shots, a lot of threes, and they started to get frustrated and started arguing (with each other). When they started arguing, we started to attack them. We kept our foot on the gas.”
Prep’s second-half run never came. Career’s biggest lead came at 29 points (63-34) less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
“They just outplayed us. If they don’t win the states, I’d be shocked,” Redgate said about Career.
Ryan Foley finished with 18 points for Prep while Tom Nolan added 13.
“I know personally I didn’t come ready to play,” said Prep guard Ryan Kelly, who finished with 10 points. “I give credit to them, they are a great team. They beat us fair and square. We have to get back in the gym, work on our defense. You can’t let them get in the lane like that.”
CAREER 81, FAIRFIELD PREP 59
Career 17 20 22 22 – 81
Fairfield Prep 10 8 16 25 – 59
Justin Campbell 7 6-7 20, Justin Gordneer 3 0-0 6, Tyreek Perkins 4 4-4 13, Tyrell Eaddy 3 4-5 10, Kevin Smith 6 0-1 13, Tyquise Burney 1 1-2 3, Danny Ampofo 3 1-1 7, Fred Adams 0 2-2 2, Will Jackson 3 0-1 7. Totals: 30 18-23 81
FAIRFIELD PREP (59)
Joe DiGennaro 2 0-0 4, Patrick Harding 1 0-0 2, Thomas Nolan 3 6-6 13, Rich Kelly 3 4-6 10, Ryan Foley 9 0-0 18, Matt Gerics 1 2-2 4, Will Lucas 1 0-0 2, John Kelly 2 0-0 6. Totals: 22 12-14 59
3-point goals: Career 3 (Perkins 1, Smith 1, Jackson 1); Fairfield Prep 3 (Nolan 1, Kelly 2); Records: Career 21-3; Fairfield Prep 21-2
Notes: Technical fouls: Harding, Haskins.
Video via CPTVSports.org
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