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Chukwu powers unbeaten Fairfield Prep past Hillhouse

Published 9:28 pm, Friday, January 31, 2014
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NEW HAVEN -- At this point in his high school career, Fairfield Prep's Paschal Chukwu has been taught thoroughly on how to develop into a dominant center. But, that didn't stop coach Leo Redgate from giving the 7-footer some advice recently.

"He's too unselfish. He always kicks (the ball) back out instead of making a move to the hoop," Redgate said. "So I said, `I want to get you more touches, but you've got to get a little more selfish and take the ball to the hoop.'"

Redgate liked what he saw on Friday.

Chukwu finished just shy of a triple-double Friday as Prep defeated Hillhouse 70-58 at the Floyd Little Athletic Center to remain unbeaten.

It was the top-ranked Jesuits' (14-0) second win over their SCC foe this season after losing to the Academics three times last year, including twice in the postseason.

"Losing to a team twice in the finals is not really a fun experience. We never forgot that," said Chukwu, who posted 24 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks on Friday. "I think any time we play a good team, the team (Prep) always comes together."

The Jesuits managed to do that despite missing two starters, sophomore guard Ryan Murphy (ankle injury) and junior forward Ryan Foley (mononucleosis).

Forward Patrick Harding, a freshman, made up for some of that production by scoring 15 points in his first start.

"He's always been kind of in the 8-to-10 range as far as depth," Redgate said.

He continued: "He's a freshman, so you just don't want to throw these kids into the fire. You want to develop them a little bit, get them some more confidence. He's been waiting for this."

With the Providence College-bound Chukwu controlling the paint, the Jesuits maintained a double-digit lead for nearly three quarters. They were ahead by 10 at halftime and 13 after three before extending their lead to 15 points early in the fourth quarter. Hillhouse got within 63-55, but Chukwu went 6-for-6 at the foul line late to seal it.

"Every time we'd get within single digits, it just seemed like we couldn't get the stop that we needed on the basket that we needed," Hillhouse coach Renard Sutton said.

The defending SCC and Class LL champions dropped to 9-4 this season despite 22 points from Shane Christie and 18 from Raiquan Clark.

The Academics weren't shy about attacking the 7-foot-2 Chukwu, but they also weren't rewarded for their aggressiveness. In their first meeting this season, a 72-62 Prep win on Jan. 4, the Academics forced Chukwu to the bench early with two quick fouls. But on Friday, the Academics' fortunes changed.

"We wanted to see if he was going to be the one able to beat us," Sutton said, "and today, he beat us."

Hillhouse led by one point early, but Prep used a 21-4 run to build a 27-11 lead. The Jesuits led by at least eight the rest of the way.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; twitter.com/DougBonjour

FAIRFIELD PREP (14-0)

Keith Pettway 3 3-4 9 Tommy Nolan 2 2-4 7 Ray Featherston 3 2-4 9 Dave Zielinski 2 1-2 6 Joseph DiGennaro 0 0-0 0 Van de Berghe Richard 0 0-0 0 Paschal Chukwu 7 10-15 24 Patrick Harding 6 3-5 15. Totals 23 21-34 70.

HILLHOUSE (9-4)

Troy Walters Jr. 0 0-0 0 Dion Allick Boyd 1 1-2 3 Corey Barrett 3 3-4 11 Wayne Whyte II 1 0-0 2 John Lewis 1 0-0 2 Shane Christie 7 7-9 22 Raiquan Clark 6 5-11 18 Da'Quan Bowes 0 0-0 0 Justin McClendon 0 0-0 0 Rashaan Boyd 0 0-0 0 Ellis Goodlow 0 0-0 0 Juan Carlos Sepulveda 0 0-0 0 Dontell Glover Jr. 0 0-0 0 Aaron White 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 16-26 58.

FAIRFIELD PREP 17 17 18 18 -- 70

HILLHOUSE 9 15 15 19 -- 58

3-pointers: FP -- Nolan, Featherston, Zielinski. H -- Barrett 2, Clark, Christie.

Fouled out: FP -- Zielinski.

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