For the second straight year, one of the most prestigious scholastic boys basketball programs in the nation will travel from New Jersey to take part in an exhibition game at Fairfield Prep. Last December, St. Anthony's, of Jersey City, played on the Jesuits' court at Fairfield University's Alumni Hall and left Connecticut with a 12-point exhibition victory four days before Fairfield Prep opened its regular-season schedule.
This year, the Friars will play an exhibition at Fairfield Prep again on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. without a charge for admission.
The game was moved up from the original tip-off time of 3:30 p.m. to allow Jesuits' fans the opportunity to watch the exhibition basketball game and still make it to New Britain for the football team's CIAC Class LL state championship game at Central Connecticut State University against Southington at 6:05 p.m.
"We are thrilled that Coach (Bob) Hurley and his St. Anthony's team are coming to Alumni Hall to play us again this year. We learned a lot from the experience last year," Prep coach Leo Redgate said. "Coach Hurley is the most successful high school basketball coach in the country, and his teams are a perennial national powerhouse. He is a brilliant coach and motivator.
"I always tell my players that if you want to be considered the best, you have to play against the best. If we lose the game badly, it is just another learning moment for our team. The goal is to be learning every day to prepare to make a deep state tournament run at the end of the year. I cannot think of a better way to learn than to play the best competition.
"To be able to provide the game free to all basketball fans is icing on the cake," Redgate said.
Hurley's Friars teams haves amassed 26 state championships. Hurley has more than 1,000 wins in 40 years as a coach. His son, Bobby, was a former All-America point guard at Duke University. Son Dan Hurley is head coach at the University of Rhode Island.
In most years St. Anthony's is among the teams ranked in most national polls. St. Anthony's won the New Jersey Parochial B state championships in 2010-11 and 2011-12, going 65-0 in that span. The Friars were 28-2 in 2012-13.
Fairfield Prep reached the Class LL championship game last winter, losing to Hillhouse to finish at 25-3. The Jesuits open next Wednesday at home against Branford.