Ti­tle just out of reach

Stam­ford can’t match Green Knights’ depth

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Sports - By Mike Madera

WEST HAVEN — Con­nor Raines and the rest of the Notre Dame-West Haven bas­ket­ball team be­lieve they can reach the Mo­he­gan

Sun, site of the Divi­sion I state fi­nal in

March.

Through five games, the Green

Knights have shown no rea­son why this is not pos­si­ble

Be­hind a bal­anced scor­ing at­tack, led by 28 points from Raines, Notre Dame topped Stam­ford 75-60 in the Win­ter Snow Jam fi­nal at Tonelli Court on the cam­pus of Notre Dame Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon.

“Last year, we did not have the depth like we do this year,” Raines said. “This year, we have guys com­ing off the bench who can score. Teams can’t just fo­cus on me. We can move the ball around, and now they have to fo­cus on all of us.”

The Black Knights saw this first-hand as twice they cut a dou­ble-digit deficit to one point, only to see the Green Knights (5-0) pull away each time. The sec­ond time Stam­ford (2-3) closed to a point on a 3-pointer by Jay Jaudon with 4 min­utes, 30 sec­onds left in the third quar­ter, the Green Knights re­sponded with buck­ets by Zach La­put and Justin Cov­ing­ton to start a 10-2 run, which also in-

cluded 3-point­ers by Jaiden Kim­bro and Ed­die Zanor, for a 51-44 lead with 2:20 left in the quar­ter.

“It hap­pened twice,” Stam­ford coach Zach Smith said. “It hap­pened once in the first half and again in the sec­ond half. They ob­vi­ously are very good. The big­gest dif­fer­ence was com­ing out of time­outs, they ex­e­cuted and we didn’t. We have to be fo­cused for 32 min­utes night in and night out. We have to ma­ture in those ar­eas.”

The Green Knights, the No. 7 team in the Regis­ter/ GameTimeCT Top 10 pre­sea­son poll, never trailed again, and built the lead to 21 points as they started the fourth quar­ter on a 15-2 run to take a 69-48 lead, ef­fec­tively putting the game away.

That run saw 3-point­ers by Trevon Set­zer-Smith and Raines to open the run, and a 3-pointer by Set­zerSmith and two free throws by Raines to end it.

“We were able to move the ball around and get the mis­matches we wanted,” Notre Dame coach Ja­son Shea said. “We got the ball to Con­nor (Raines) early, and when they ad­justed, we were able to get the ball to oth­ers. I thought the other key was we picked up our de­fense and that al­lowed us to get out on the breaks.”

Set­zer-Smith and Cov­ing­ton, who each fin­ished with 10 points, played a big role early in the con­test for the Green Knights as Set­zer-Smith helped the team to an 8-2 lead and Cov­ing­ton led to a 13-10 ad­van­tage. Raines then helped his team to a 20-10 ad­van­tage with a bucket and a 3pointer, be­fore Stam­forrd clawed back.

Bas­kets by Jaudon and Danny Simms got Stam­ford within 25-22, be­fore an­other Notre Dame run capped with a bas­ket by Kim­bro had the Green Knights on top 32-24. The Green Knighs (5-0) added four more points as part of a 9-0 run and a 12-point lead.

“We have such bal­ance,” Shea said. “Jaiden Kim­bro is so good on both ends, Ed­die Zanor knocks down a 3-pointer. Our de­fense, for the most part, has been very good.”

The Green Knights were ef­fec­tive on all ar­eas of the floor, drain­ing 21 field goals, knock­ing down seven 3-point­ers, and con­nect­ing on 12 of 14 free throws.

Jaudon led Stam­ford with 28 points, while Josh Thervil con­nected for 26 in the loss Both were named to the All Tour­na­ment Team along with Raines and Ben Car­roll from Notre Dame, Quan­nal Slaugh­ter from West Haven, who scored 30 points in the con­so­la­tion fi­nal win, and RHAM’s Josh Boehler.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Con­nor Raines: Notre Dame se­nior led the way with 28 points, in­clud­ing seven field goals, two 3point­ers and 8-of-9 from the foul line. He was named the tour­na­ment’s MVP.

QUOTABLE

“We re­ally work hard. I think we work harder than any­body with Coach Shea. Even on our days off, there are guys here shoot­ing. Our team wants to get to the (Mo­he­gan) Sun (for the (Divi­sion I state fi­nal), and I think we can do it.” — Con­nor Raines

Chris­tian Abra­ham / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Stam­ford’s Jay Jaudon (11) at­tempts a shot as Notre Dame-West Haven’s Zach La­put (21) de­fends dur­ing the Win­ter Snow Jam Christ­mas tour­na­ment fi­nal in West Haven on Sat­ur­day.

Chris­tian Abra­ham / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Notre Dame-West Haven’s Trevon Set­zer-Smith lays up the ball in be­tween Stam­ford’s Kaleb Souf­frant, left, and Danny Simms in West Haven on Sat­ur­day.

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