Prep ready to roll into tournament season
Updated 3:50 pm, Tuesday, February 21, 2012
It's one-and-done time for the Fairfield Prep boys basketball team.
The Jesuits cruised to a 17-2 record, its best regular season in school history. Prep will try to exact some revenge in the SCC tournament from a year ago as the conference's No. 2 seed.
"We're trying to set the bar higher here," Prep coach Leo Redgate said.
Prep is 16-1 against the SCC and takes a 13-game win streak into the conference tournament. The Jesuits earned a bye in the conference tournament's first round and will play Saturday against either No. 7 Daniel Hand or 10th-seeded Xavier at 3:30 p.m. at East Haven High School.
The Jesuits held off Cheshire, 77-68, Monday night, and dominated Foran, 76-53, on senior night at Alumni Hall on Friday. Senior captain Terry Tarpey led Prep in both games, scoring 20 points on Monday and 29 points and 18 rebounds on Friday night.
"It was a good team win," Tarpey said on Friday.
Prep built a 43-17 halftime advantage on Friday with crisp passing and solid defense. Senior Mike Matera had three assists in the first half, and junior Tim Butala scored 12 of his 18 in the first half. The junior big man admitted the club enjoys itself when it creates easy, fast break points after forcing an opponent's turnover.
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"We're having a lot of fun," he said. "Our defense creates our offense and when we get in transition... and we get a lot of easy baskets."
Tarpey shared with that sentiment.
"When you win 12 in a row, you can't not have fun," Tarpey said.
However, Tarpey understands how it works from here on out. Prep is only guaranteed two more games, an SCC quarterfinal and a Class LL game. If the Jesuits play poorly, their season could end at any point.
"We have to adjust our mindset with the playoffs," he said. "We have to go big or go home and win every game from here on out."
The team also emembers its SCC semifinal loss to Career Magnet from a year ago. The Panthers dominated the Jesuits in the second half, en route to a 65-44 win at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden.
"Our competition has gotten better and better, which has prepared us for the playoffs," Butala said. "Hopefully we can get a better result at Quinnipiac this year."
Redgate has been gearing his club for this time and is ready for his team to get that mindset for a run to the SCC and Class LL finals.
"Every practice I talk about winning a state championship," Redgate said. "You can't let up for one minute and that's going to be the difference between winning and losing at this time of the year."