By Jim Bransfield
MIDDLETOWN >> North Haven was the right team at the right time for the Xavier Falcons.
“We were coming off our toughest stretch of the season with three road games at Hand, Fairfield Prep and Wilbur Cross,” said Xavier coach Mike Kohs, whose team lost the last two of those games. “We needed a good win and it was good to win comfortably.”
Comfortable it was as the Falcons blasted North Haven 72-41 in front of 300 at Xavier’s Art Kohs gymnasium Friday night.
“I was most happy with our ball movement,” said Kohs. “Against Cross [a 55-52 loss last Tuesday] we had just five assists and I can’t remember such a low number for us. So our goal tonight was at least 14 assists and we got 18. We moved the ball very well on the perimeter and that was everybody who did that.”
Kohs also said he thought that his team needed to work on getting the ball inside.
“I don’t know what it was, maybe a little loss of confidence in the last two games [both losses], but we did very well inside tonight,” said Kohs. “We knew we needed to get those guys playing a little better and since North Haven wasn’t really big, it was an opportunity for us to dominate, and I think we did.”
Kohs thought right. His team outrebounded North Haven 36-17 with center Kaleb Lutton leading the way with 10.
Xavier (8-3) put North Haven (2-9) to sleep early, scoring the first 12 points of the game. Halfway through the first quarter the Falcons led 17-3 en route to a 20-6 lead after one.
The Falcons built the lead to 34-16 at the half, then blew the Indians away in the third quarter, taking a 59-28 lead to the final eight minutes.
Xavier had one of those balanced scoring nights coaches dream about. Brendan MacPherson led the way with 17, Elijah Pemberton had 16, John Haberski had 12 off the bench – four three-pointers – and Lutton had 10.
Josh Lopez led North Haven with 16 points and Matt Defrancesco chipped in with 11.
Xavier was 24-of-61 from the floor for 40 percent, but that number is deceiving as Kohs played subs for much of the game. North Haven was a dismal 12-of-45 for 27 percent.
With the win Xavier qualified for the Class LL tournament. The Falcons play at Cheshire Tuesday and at Hamden Friday.