Notre Dame boys basketball advances to Class M quarterfinals
FAIRFIELD -- Two down and three to go for the Notre Dame of Fairfield boys basketball team.
Sixth-seeded Notre Dame advanced to the Class M quarterfinals with a 75-60 victory over 22nd-seeded Granby Memorial in the second round of the state playoffs. The Lancers raised their record to 20-5 and need three more victories to cut down the nets at Mohegan Sun next weekend.
They play at third-seeded Kaynor Tech of Waterbury (20-2) Monday in the quarterfinals.
Granby Memorial ended its season at 11-12 despite giving Notre Dame fits in the first half. The game was tied 28-28 at the break because the underdog Bears forced 12 Lancer turnovers before the break while committing only seven.
But in the second half, Notre Dame picked up its defensive pressure and forced 17 turnovers, 10 in the third quarter, to take control of the game.
"Our second half was good," Lancers coach Vinny Laczkoski said. "We had too many turnovers in the first half. What helped us in the second half was our defensive rotations and pressure, which helped turn the game around."
Junior Danny Upchurch deftly ran Notre Dame's offense setting up junior Earl Coleman's layup. Coleman drew contact, and hit the free throw for the 3-point play, giving the Lancers the lead for good, 33-32, with 6:34 remaining in the third quarter.
"I just try to get my teammates the ball in good position," Upchurch said.
The play started a 15-0 run and turned the tide. Freshman CJ Davidson stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid it in.
"CJ, Danny and Earl were fantastic on the press," Laczkoski said.
Coleman had five steals, two off of inbounds passes.
"We decided to press them in the second half," Coleman said. "I was able to read them and get the steals."
Upchurch set up senior Arkel Miles' layup to cap the run after another steal.
Granby Memorial tried to claw back and cut the lead to 47-39 behind Nick Mazotta (20 points) and Carlin Champion (16 points).
However, Upchurch answered by swishing an off-balance trey at the buzzer to extend the lead to 50-39, after three quarters. Miles' (19 points, 18 rebounds) work in the paint helped push the lead to 73-53 with 1:20 to go in the game.
"I just concentrated more on my layups, free throws and rebounds," Miles said.
Upchurch said, "Arkel came out ready to play in the second half, and got to the foul line."
The Bears' biggest lead was 14-10 in the first quarter.
"Our kids can play," Granby coach Walter Hansen said. "We thought we could negate what they do with their guards and big fellow (Miles), but we had a rough six minutes in the second half. They have more depth than us and wore us down. Their pressure got to us."
GRANBY MEMORIAL (11-12)
Nick Mazotta 9 1-2 20 Carlin Champion 6 0-0 16 Danny Clark 2 0-2 4 Michael Noyes 7 0-0 14 Curtis Field 0 0-0 0 Zach Quinn 1 0-0 2. Totals: 27 1-4 60.
NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD (17-4)
Danny Upchurch 4 4-4 15 Arkel Miles 5 9-16 19 Earl Coleman 6 6-8 18 C.J. Davidson 4 2-2 10 Jaylen Jennings 2 0-0 4 Jake Heaton 2 0-0 6 Nnamdi Gogoh 0 0-0 0 Donte Peeler 1 0-0 3. Totals: 24 21-30 75.
GRANBY MEMORIAL 14 14 11 21--60
NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 14 14 22 25--75
3-pointers: G--Champion 4, Mazotta. ND--Upchurch 3, Heaton 2, Peeler. G--Mazotta had 15 rebounds. Clark had 10 rebounds. Noyes had 6 assists and 5 steals. ND--Upchurch had 5 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals. Coleman had 4 assists, 6 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 blocked shots. Miles had 18 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. Davidson had 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Jennings had 4 rebounds. Peeler had 4 rebounds. Heaton had 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 blocked shot.