Tarpey powers Fairfield Prep into Class LL quarterfinals
FAIRFIELD -- Tony Dobbinson took a couple of dribbles and exploded to the basket, pulling up for a jump shot that bounded off the rim. In a swoop, the Westhill point guard charged the lane and followed in his miss.
It was a play that Dobbinson has executed many times over the past four seasons, the kind that, more often than not, contributed to a victory.
But on Thursday night, this flash occurred with what would turn out to be the final 90 seconds of his career, and the Vikings trailing by 15 points in what would become a 62-53 loss to Fairfield Prep in the second round of the Class LL boys basketball tournament.
And it was exactly because field goals like this from Dobbinson and teammate Chris Walters were so rare that the sixth-seeded Jesuits are moving on to a quarterfinal meeting with New Britain and the 11th-seeded Vikings are going home.
"We came together as a team and that's what we did best," said Jesuits star Terry Tarpey, who lives in Stamford and torched some of his former middle school classmates with 26 points. "When they made a run, we didn't get down. No one on our team wanted to lose this game. We knew this might be our last game at Prep."
Prep's cohesion was best evidenced with 4:54 left in the third quarter. Westhill (15-8) had a 33-27 lead when Walters went to the bench with his third foul.
After an exchange of free throws, Prep's Mike Matera, beaten off the dribble for much of the first half, applied stifling defensive pressure in denying Dobbinson the ball. With the Vikings' two top weapons neutralized, the Jesuits went on a 26-4 run to take control of the game.
While Prep moved the ball and found open players for easy baskets, Westhill lost patience and took ill-advised shots.
"Mike Matera locked him down," Prep coach Leo Redgate said of Dobbinson. "You have to. I think that was the difference in the game. Part of the plan was to not let them get in a run-and-gun game."
Tim Butala added 13 points for the Jesuits, who improved to 21-3.
Walters ended up with 16 points and Dobbinson 13, but both labored and Walters ended up fouling out late in the game.
The Vikings using an 8-0 run to take a 12-7 lead midway through the opening quarter, and the Jesuits soon answered with seven unanswered points.
The half ended, fittingly enough, in a 27-27 draw. Prep might have been in a better position if not for nine turnovers, almost all of them coming on passes forced into traffic.
"I think at halftime we made the commitment to not turning the ball over like we did in the first half," Redgate said. "Teams get impatient with us. When we run our stuff the way we are supposed to, we are tough to beat."
In a schoolyard contest, Tarpey would be the obvious first choice, and the next three or four players selected would likely be Vikings. But it is exactly because the Jesuits took the game out of the schoolyard that their season will extend at least one more night.
Tony Dobbinson 6 1-2 13; Terell Middleton 0 0-0 0; Chris Walters 6 4-4 16; Evan Skoporantzos 1 0-0 2; Mark Edwin 2 0-0 5; Sam Dorissaint 4 0-0 8; Romario Narine 1 2-2 5; Dondre James 0 1-2 1; Guyveson Cassamajor 0 3-4 3. Totals: 20 11-14 53.
FAIRFIELD PREP (21-3)
Thomas Nolan 2 2-4 7; Mike Matera 3 2-2 8; Dave Ryan 0 0-0 0; Ben Sullivan 1 0-2 2; Ryan Blake 2 2-3 6; Terry Tarpey 9 7-10 26; Tim Butala 4 5-6 13. Totals: 21 18-27 62.
WESTHILL 14 13 10 16--53
FAIRFIELD PREP 16 11 13 22--62
3-pointers: W--Edwin, Narine; FP--Nolan, Tarpey.