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Fairfield Prep turns back Career to remain unbeaten

Updated 12:47 am, Friday, February 21, 2014

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  • Fairfield Prep's Pascal Chukwa reacts as he slam dunks the ball, during boys basketball action against Career of New Haven in Fairfield, Conn. on Thursday February 20, 2014. At right is Career's Alden Singley. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post

    Fairfield Prep's Pascal Chukwa reacts as he slam dunks the ball, during boys basketball action against Career of New Haven in Fairfield, Conn. on Thursday February 20, 2014. At right is Career's Alden Singley.

    Photo: Christian Abraham

 

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FAIRFIELD -- Fairfield Prep has remained unbeaten and atop the state boys basketball poll all season despite playing shorthanded for a significant stretch.

First, star swingman Ryan Murphy was lost to an ankle injury sustained on Jan. 4 and remains out. Later in the month, his replacement in the starting lineup, Ryan Foley, was sidelined with mononucleosis.

On Thursday, the Jesuits' depth was tested once again when their double-double machine, Paschal Chukwu, was forced to the bench in the second half with foul trouble. Still, the Jesuits responded.

Thanks to a game-high 25 points from point guard Keith Pettway and a late boost by their 7-foot center, the Jesuits held off Career Magnet 71-65 at Alumni Hall to stay perfect.

"We're not reliant on one player anymore. I think we can sustain anything happening," Prep coach Leo Redgate said. "We sustained their best punch for a good five minutes of the game without Paschal in there. That's a credit to the boys."

Chukwu sat after picking up his fourth foul with Prep up two with 1:44 left in the third. When he returned with 5:11 remaining, Career was ahead for the first time since the first quarter.

The Jesuits (19-0) went to a small lineup in his absence, during which Pettway chipped in seven points at the free-throw line. The senior guard went 15-of-17 from the stripe, including 6-for-6 in the fourth.

"I thought we did quite well with him on the bench considering they had a significant size advantage over us," Redgate said.

Chukwu, who scored on his first possession off the bench to tie it 58-58, finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks. He never did pick up a fifth foul.

"Coming in, I knew they were going to try and bring every ball to me and try to get me to foul out," Chukwu said.

Career (17-3) also saw its star, forward Jordan Lomax, saddled with foul trouble in the second half. He was forced to sit, as well, but Career stayed close with Justin Campbell's 20 points.

Lomax scored five of his eight points early in the fourth to give Career a 58-56 lead. The Jesuits responded with an 11-6 spurt over the next five minutes to pull away.

"Maybe I should've just kept (Lomax) in and let him play it out," Career coach Larry Kelley said. "Once you sit down a little bit, sometimes you get a little stagnant. I thought he came back and played hard.

"We were a couple of plays here and there. We're right there."

Like the first meeting on Jan. 19 -- a 63-58 Prep win at the Floyd Little Athletic Center -- Career didn't do enough. It got within three points in the final minute, but Ray Featherston pushed Prep's lead to 69-64 with a bucket.

Featherston contributed eight points off the Jesuits' bench.

"We're a very deep team," Pettway said. "Anybody can come off the bench and contribute to the game."

The Jesuits led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but Career got within 36-30 at the break. The lead moved back to nine points early in the third before a 12-5 run by the Panthers cut it to two.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; twitter.com/DougBonjour

CAREER (17-3)

Amos Ford 5 1-1 11 Matt Hamilton 1 1-3 3 Tyreek Perkins 5 2-4 14 Tyrell Eaddy 2 3-3 7 Justice Phifer 1 0-0 2 Jordan Lomax 1 6-7 8 Justin Campbell 6 8-12 20. Totals 21 21-30 65.

FAIRFIELD PREP (19-0)

Keith Pettway 5 15-17 25 Thomas Nolan 3 2-2 8 Ray Featherston 3 1-3 8 David Zielinski 4 0-0 9 Patrick Harding 0 0-0 0 Joseph DiGennaro 0 0-1 0 Paschal Chukwu 7 7-13 21. Totals 22 25-36 71.

CAREER 11 19 17 18 -- 65

PREP 13 23 15 20 -- 71

3-pointers: C -- Perkins 2. P -- Zielinski, Featherston.

Fouled out: C -- Ford, Eaddy. P -- Zielinski. Technical fouls: C -- Coach Larry Kelley.

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