SOUTHBURY -- Notre Dame-Fairfield and Pomperaug are two good basketball teams that are in two different places right now.
The Lancers have things going their way while the Panthers are in a bit of a rough patch and those roles played out Friday night. Clinton Davidson scored 18 points and Jake Heaton added 17 to lead Notre Dame to hard fought 53-51 victory in a SWC matchup.
After a 1-3 start that included a loss to the state's No. 1 team, Fairfield Prep, the Lancers have reeled off eight straight wins (9-3) and are unbeaten in the SWC.
They were ripe for the picking though, playing their third game of the week and second in as many nights. The Lancers were down 46-40 with less than five minutes to play when they made their move and won their third tough game of the week.
"We have character kids and we are mentally tough," Notre Dame coach Vin Laczkoski said. "When you have character kids good things happen. Give Pomperaug credit, we could have lost tonight but our kids gutted it out and pulled out a win."
Heaton got the Lancers right back into the game with a driving hoop and a 3-pointer to pull Notre Dame within 46-45 with 4:10 to play. Davidson buried a three just under two minutes later to give the Lancers a 48-46 lead and the Panthers remained ice cold, failing to score for 4:23 before a putback by Nico Rosa pulled Pomperaug within 50-48 with 1:12 to go.
After Davidson split a pair from the line, Rosa scored in the lane to make it 51-50 with 35 seconds left in the fourth. Davidson then made one of two from the line and Pomperaug called a timeout with 22 seconds left and Notre Dame clinging to a 52-50 lead.
The Panthers got a good look out of the timeout but a corner three by Chase Belden rimmed out. Jordan Pettway hit one of two from the line for Notre Dame and Lucien Fortier made one of two for Pomperaug with 3.2 seconds left to cap the scoring.
The Lancers fouled Fortier to keep the Panthers from getting off a potential tying 3-pointer. After Fortier made his first, he intentionally missed the second but was called for a lane violation trying to get his own rebound. Notre Dame missed a pair from the line with 1.2 seconds to play and Fortier's full-court heave came up just short.
"Early in the season this team was searching for an identity," Laczkoski said. "We are starting to find it. We had a tough week and the kids found a way to pull through it. It as a 3-0 week, that's all that matters."
Laczkoski has a point, there are no style points, just wins and losses and Pomperaug has been coming up on the short end a little too often for its liking lately. The Panthers started the season 7-0 but are 8-5 after Friday's setback.
Of the Panthers' five losses, four of them are by three points or less. One, maybe two possessions a game are the difference right now for Pomperaug and that point hasn't been lost on the Panthers.
"We got a little fast at times down the stretch and that's when we get in trouble," Pomperaug coach David Yachtis said. "We were right there and we have been against the top teams in the SWC, we just have come up a little short."
Despite the rough going of late, Yachtis likes his team's potential and knows there is a lot of basketball to play this season.
"A loss like this hurts but I know this team will respond," Yachtis said. "One possession on offense, one possession on defense and we are looking at a one loss team. We are going to be there come the end of the season and we are going to be a tough out."
ND-FAIRFIELD (9-3, 8-0 SWC)
Jordan Pettway 0 1-2 1, Clinton Davidson 7 2-4 18, Jake Heaton 7 2-2 17, Jaylen Jennings 4 1-1 9, Jesse McIntosh 1 0-2 3, Joseph Cantey 1 2-2 5. Totals: 20 8-13 53.
Cooer Mooney 4 0-0 10, Ryan Johannes 3 0-0 6, Lucien Fortier 6 1-4 13, Alec Nord 1 0-0 2, Nico Rosa 3 0-1 6, Tyler Harrington 4 4-7 14. Totals: 21 5-12 51.
ND-FAIRFIELD 9 11 18 15--53
POMPERAUG 8 16 16 11--51
3-pointers: P--Mooney (2), Harrington (2). ND--Davidson (2), Heaton, McIntosh, Cantey.