Prep wins 11th straight in rout of Shelton
Updated 2:34 pm, Thursday, February 16, 2012
For one half, the Fairfield Prep boys basketball team looked like one of the top clubs in the state.
Fortunately for the Jesuits, that was enough.
Prep built a 21-point halftime advantage, allowed Shelton to get within eight, but rebounded in the fourth to take a 64-46 win at Shelton High School.
"We played a very, very good first half," Prep coach Leo Redgate said. "But we need to punch them out."
"We just had to keep our heads in the game," Tarpey said. "I feel we did that for about 90 percent of the game."
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Senior Kyle Packnick led Shelton with 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Christian Pierre added eight points and seven rebounds before exiting with a lost tooth.
The victory clinched the Quinnipiac Division for Prep. The Jesuits will put its 11-game win streak on the line when it hosts Foran High School on senior night, Friday at Alumni Hall in Fairfield at 7 p.m.
"We've got to win all the games we're expected to," Tarpey said. "As long as we play as hard and as confident as we know how to, we should be fine."
For the first 16 minutes, Prep played like the No. 13 team in the state the New Haven Register says it is. The Jesuits spread the floor against Shelton's 2-3 zone, moving the ball with quick passes that caused easy buckets. Eight of Prep's 12 first-half field goals had assists, including two apiece from Tarpey, Nolan and senior guard Mike Matera.
"We passed the ball well," Tarpey said.
Prep closed the half on a 17-3 run that boosted its seven-point lead to 21. Tarpey's thunderous finish from Nolan's alley-oop lob put Prep ahead 34-13 at the break. The senior closed the half with 18 points, more than the entire Shelton team had.
"It was our finest defensive effort of the year," Redgate said. "Thirteen points allowed is pretty good."
But Shelton, led by improved man-to-man defense and Packnick's 13 third-quarter points, cut the Jesuits' advantage to 41-33 in just six-and-a-half minutes.
"We didn't run anything properly," Redgate said. "I felt some of the guys were playing not to lose."
The Gaels' defense frustrated Prep into turnovers, and capitalized on mental mistakes, like Tarpey's technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk.
"I have got to do a better job of staying focused in the game," Tarpey said. "The refs call what they want, and I've got to respect their call."
"We were just playing to keep the lead," Nolan said.
With Shelton down nine, and in position to cut Prep's lead to two-possessions, Nolan took over. The freshman stole the ball from Gaels guard David Moreland and was fouled, calmly sank two free throws to give Prep an 11-point lead after three.
"I think it was important," Nolan said. "We didn't want to give them a full head of steam entering the fourth."
Then at the start of the fourth, Nolan got to the basket for a layup that spearheaded a 11-3 run that built Prep's lead back to 19.
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