FAIRFIELD -- One from the Sun.

All season long, the primary focus for Notre Dame-Fairfield has been getting back to the promised land - the Mohegan Sun Arena - for the CIAC finals. And so far, nothing has stood in the Lancers way. Tyler Bourne was his usual spectacular self, Josh Reaves got his offensive game going and ND now stands one game away from returning to the state finals after steamrolling E.O. Smith 78-51 before a packed house Monday night at the Lancers gym.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for because now it’s time to win,” said Bourne, the junior point guard who scored 19 points and added 11 assists for a double-double. “It’s always good to make sure my teammates have confidence because in big games we’re going to need them to step up.”

Notre Dame, now 24-2, winners of six straight and 23 of its last 24 games, will face Wilton, who defeated Crosby 65-61 in a semifinal matchup on Wednesday (snow permitting) at a site and time to be determined.

“Being familiar with them from the FCIAC, we played them every year. I’m familiar with their style,” ND-Fairfield coach Chris Watts said, who went against the Warriors often coaching at St. Joseph. “We’re just hoping that we can come in and keep up with those guys. They’re guard heavy, they play well together and their coach is one of the best in the state, so year-in and year-out they’re always there.”

Notre Dame struggled at times in the first quarter, guilty of four turnovers and several rushed shots as the Panthers stayed close, trailing just 13-12. But in the second quarter, ND got its offense into high gear. Reaves scored 10 points - banging home a pair of 3-pointers and Bourne handed out five assists -- as Notre Dame put together a 29-point quarter to take a 42-22 halftime lead.

“The first quarter, they slowed us up a lot,” said Bourne. “But we like to get out on the break and get stops and once we started doing that, we started scoring in transition and the lead exploded.”

No kidding. From a one-point lead after one quarter, the Lancers blew out to a 20-point halftime cushion and pushed that out to 24, leading 64-40 after three.

“We got away from our game plan,” E.O. Smith coach Ron Piers said. “We were trying to slow the tempo down, take good shots but we started forcing things, we gave up a lot of uncontested shots and that got them going and they’re a good team and you can’t let a good team like that get going.

“It’s hard but you have to learn how to spread the court. We didn’t do that, and that made it hard for us to execute and for them to double team.”

Taking advantage of the Lancers’ less-than-intense defense in the first half, E.O. Smith’s Alex Kravchuk scored 11 points and finished with a game-high 25. Kravchuk scored 12 straight points in the third quarter as the Panthers pulled within 46-34 with 4:21 left in the third, but once the Lancers switched some defensive assignments, Kravchuk was held in check and ND started pulling away.

“I think by us being in (Kravchuk’s) face when he caught the ball, not really denying him but being close to him, I think that helped a lot,” Watts said. “Early on, we were thinking we had to deny him and he’d get free and he’d get a layup but we made an adjustment and we kept him in front of us.”

While Kravchuk finished with 25, no other E.O. Smith player reached double figures. Andrew Schroder had eight. No one else had more than four.

Reaves finished with 14, Nori Davis had 13, Colin Burke had seven and Anthony Mongillo had six as 12 different Lancers scored.

“Josh was engaged,” Watts said. “He was engaged on offense and defense and when Josh is shooting the ball well, it’s great to have.”

“Josh is a big piece of the team,” added Bourne. “Whenever Josh can contribute and help out, it’s just makes the team better.”

celsberry@ctpost.com

E.O. SMITH

Hunter Meshanic 0 4-4 4, Adam Tangari 0 0-0 0, Cameron Metsack 0 0-0 0, Ryan Kaeser 2 0-2 4, Thomas Pavliscsak 0 0-0 0, Alex Kravchuk 9 6-12 25, Jack Neumuth 2 0-0 4, Carter Meshanic 0 3-4 3, Will Evans 0 0-0 0, Rondell Bothroyd 1 1-4 3, Andrew Schroder 3 2-2 8, Jack Krecidlo 0 0-0 0, Nicholas Parker 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 16-28 51

ND-FAIRFIELD

Damion Medwinter 2 0-1 4, Tyler Bourne 8 2-2 19, Woodley Monnexant 1 0-0 2, Colin Burke 3 1-1 7, Anthony Mongillo 2 0-0 6, Mubrack Soulemane 0 0-0 0, Stone Appleberg 1 0-0 2, Gerard Lature 0 0-0 0, Nori Davis 5 2-6 13, Rodney Medor 0 4-4 4, Philip Conner 1 1-1 3, Xavier Giddens 1 0-0 2, Josh Reaves 5 2-2 14, Zach Maiden-Fountain 0 0-0 0, Alejandro Sanchez 1 0-0 2. Totals: 30 12-17 78

E.O. SMITH 12 10 18 11 -- 51

ND=FAIRFIELD 13 29 22 14 -- 78

Records: ND-Fairfield (24-2); E.O. Smith (12-11)

3-pointers: ND-F - Davis, Mongillo 2, Bourne, Reaves 2; E.O. - Kravchuk

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