FAIRFIELD —The salute came with just a couple of seconds left in the third quarter. Tremont Waters was going to make sure that Fairfield Prep was not going to knock off Notre Dame-West Haven just one day after the Green Knights were anointed as the state’s new No. 1 team.

The quarter was winding down. Waters was holding the ball, waiting to make his move, and when the time was right, he did. The senior sailed past Fairfield Prep defender Nicholas Rothe, pulled up a couple of steps behind the 3-point line and banged home a triple — saluting the Prep “Bomb Squad” in the stands as the ball dropped through the hoop. The basket gave the Green Knights a double-digit cushion en route to a hard-fought 57-53 decision over a determined Prep squad Tuesday night at Alumni Hall.

“There was something, like 20 seconds left and I waited until it was time and I just went by,” said Waters, who is headed to Georgetown. “I just go out there and play my game and run my team. I let the crowd say what they say and I just do what I do and they do what they do, and at the end I just look at the scoreboard.”

The Green Knights remained undefeated, improving to 18-0. Fairfield Prep fell to 10-10, losing its second straight.

“That is not a 10-10 team,” Notre Dame-West Haven coach Jason Shea said of Prep. “I feel bad for the team that draws these guys in the first round. In my opinion, Prep is still a top-10 caliber team. This was a great game between two very good basketball teams.”

In the end, difference came down to the guards. With Waters and Tim Dawson in control, ND-West Haven was able to keep Prep at bay just enough.

“That was the difference,” Prep coach Leo Redgate said of the Green Knights’ experienced guard combo. “but when we executed our game plan, I thought we looked very good against them. But when we freelanced a little bit, we kind of lost our way. I wish we could have had some of those possessions back.”

A back-and-forth first quarter saw the Green Knights holding onto an 11-10 lead. When Waters — who led ND-West Haven with 21 points — banged home a deep 3-pointer with 24 seconds before halftime, the visitors led 26-22 at the break.

The Jesuits were able to stay right with the Green Knights in the first half thanks to forward Bobby Hasksins, who scored nine of his 12 points in the first 10 minutes, battling against the 6-foot-5 Michael Brooks and the 6-foot-7 Jalanni White. He finished with a team-high 18 rebounds. Harding, who led Prep with 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds.

“Haskins and Patrick (Harding), I thought they were excellent,” Redgate said. “I thought our energy was very good, I thought our defense was excellent.”

“I thought Prep did a great job tonight. I thought they executed well. They have great players,” Shea said. “They’re big, they’re very smart and they always play hard. I give them all the credit in the world. I thought our guys stepped up to the plate and made big plays when we needed them.”

The biggest coming at the end of the third quarter when Waters canned that deep 3-pointer — his fourth of the game — to put ND-West Haven ahead 47-35 heading into the final eight minutes.

“I knew I was going to make the shot,” Waters said. “I practice that shot over and over, playing late-game situations, end-of-the-game clock. I always practice those moments so when I get into games, it’s nothing new to me.”

celsberry@ctpost.com

ND-WEST HAVEN 57, FAIRFIELD PREP 53

ND-WEST HAVEN (18-0)

Tim Dawson 5 0-2 13, Tremont Waters 7 3-4 21, Jalanni White 3 2-3 8, Michael Brooks 4 0-0 8, Connor Raines 1 3-4 5, Evan Blue 1 0-0 2, Chukwudi Dikko 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 8-13 57

FAIRFIELD PREP (10-10)

John Kelly 3 0-0 7, Mitch Savoca 0 0-0 0, Patrick Harding 7 3-3 18, Robert Haskins 4 4-5 12, Phil Vlandis 6 2-2 16, Finn Duran 0 0-0 0, Nick Rothe 0 0-0 0,

Sean O’Leary 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 9-10 53

ND-WEST HAVEN 11 15 21 10—57

FAIRFIELD PREP 10 12 13 18—53

3-pointers: FP—Vlandis 2, Kelly, Harding; NDWH—Waters 4, Dawson 3