Nolan, Fairfield Prep turn back Hamden to remain undefeated
FAIRFIELD -- Tommy Nolan was feeling a little under the weather. Scratchy throat, runny nose, slightly feverish.
Imagine what he might have done if he was healthy.
Nolan scored 18 points, six coming in a 15-second span in the game's final minute, and added eight assists, five steals and six rebounds as Fairfield Prep put together a game-ending 9-0 run to knock off Hamden 70-62 Thursday night at Fairfield University's Alumni Hall.
"He wasn't feeling well. He was off," Prep head coach Leo Redgate said. "To his credit, he's used to being a 25-point-per-game scorer, and he sacrificed that tonight because he knows what we need from him."
With the loss of senior point guard Ray Fetherston last week to a torn ACL, what the Jesuits -- who improved to 7-0 and are ranked No. 4 in the state -- need is leadership, and Nolan delivered in a huge way down the stretch when Hamden was doing everything to try to steal the game away.
Trailing 62-61 with 55 seconds left, Nolan made two free throws to give Prep the lead. He followed that by stealing the ball from Green Dragons guard Blair Johnson and driving for a layup with 45 seconds left. Then Nolan was fouled on a rebound and made two more free throws with 41 seconds to go to give Prep a 67-62 lead.
"I knew my shot wasn't falling tonight so I had to do something else to help my team," Nolan said. "I was just going as hard as I could in that last minute, trying to get my team a victory."
He did what he could -- playing the point, driving the ball up-court, up-tempo, whatever it takes.
"It's something that I have to do," Nolan said. "We miss Ray a lot but it is what it is and we're going to have to step it up, and everyone is going to have to keep doing what they're doing."
Hamden stood toe-to-toe with Prep the entire way heading into that game-changing final minute, led by Johnson, who scored 15 points, including the final eight for the Green Dragons. Dylan Noble paced Hamden with 16 points and Andrew Rice added 11.
With Nolan scoring eight and Ryan Foley 10 (he had 20 to lead Prep), the Jesuits took a 21-19 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Hamden hung close. When C.J. Seaforth buried a 35-footer from the right wing at the halftime buzzer, the Green Dragons trailed just 35-33. Noble scored 10 of Hamden's 17 points in the third quarter as the visitors took a 50-49 lead, and the game went back and forth until Nolan stole the show in the final minute.
"That's what makes him so special," Redgate said of Nolan. "That's the kind of guy you want on your team."
HAMDEN 19 14 17 12-- 62
PREP 21 14 14 21--70
FAIRFIELD PREP (7-0): Tommy Nolan 6 5-7 18, Rich Kelly 6 4-6 17, Ryan Foley 7 6-8 20, Matt Gerics 0 0-0 0, Bobby Haskins 0 0-0 0, Pat Harding 1 4-8 6, Joe Digennaro 1 2-7 4, John Kelly 1 0-0 3, Will Lucas 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 21-36 70
HAMDEN (4-1): Johnson 3 9-10 15, Noble 7 0-1 16, Rice 5 1-1 11, Seaforth 4 3-5 12, Scott 1 2-4 4, Kearney 0 2-2 2, Servetas 0 0-0 0, Graham 0 0-0 0, Osborne 2 0-0 4, Genese 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 17-23 62