Weaver beats Notre Dame of Fairfield to win Class M boys basketball title
UNCASVILLE -- As the echoes of "We are the Champions" coming from the Weaver locker room wafted through the open doors of the Notre Dame-Fairfield locker room, music that the Lancers couldn't help but hear, they gripped their runner-up medals a little tighter and hung their heads a little lower.
Down the hall, Weaver was celebrating a state championship three seasons in the making. And for the two departing ND seniors, CJ Davidson and Jake Heaton, it hurt. But for the rest of the Lancers, it's going to be used as motivation for next season -- and beyond.
For three quarters, Notre Dame-Fairfield and Weaver battled toe-to-toe, with ND holding a two-point lead heading into the final eight minutes. But when it mattered most, the Beavers were stronger and tougher and used a game-breaking 10-0 run to pull away and capture the Class M championship with a 73-59 win Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
"We played as good as we could for three quarters and then we kind of ran out of gas," Lancers coach Vin Laczkoski said. "I'm very excited about how my team did. They battled the whole time. There were times when we had three freshmen on the court. But when you're as athletic as they are and as good as they are, it's tough."
With 5:37 to play and Notre Dame-Fairfield trailing 49-48, Davidson went to the free throw line for a one-and-one. Instead of the Lancers getting the lead, Davidson missed the front end and Weaver's 6-foot-4 forward Willie James powered up a putback at the other end to start that 10-0 run that was highlighted by an energetic breakaway dunk by Chalyn Martin that gave Weaver a 59-48 lead with 3:26 to go.
"That was a good feeling because it put us in a good position," said Martin, who finished with 14 points. "We knew that they weren't a big team and when we started crashing the boards, they started to get tired."
And the dunk?
"That was fun," Martin said.
Coming into the Class M title game, the Lancers had rolled past Windham Tech, Plainville, Granby Memorial and Bacon Academy to reach the final against top-seeded Weaver, doing so despite not having a key starter in the lineup.
Jesse McIntosh suffered a knee injury in the SWC tournament final against Bunnell and was lost for the tournament. In his place, freshman Woodley Monneraxt stepped in -- and stepped up -- one of three freshmen whom Laczkoski has relied on to provide significant minutes this season.
And those freshmen -- Monnexant, Noreaga Davis and Ryan Keeley -- all gave Laczkoski something. Monnexant had four points and three rebounds in 14 minutes, Davis five points and two steals in 21 minutes and Keeley two rebounds and a steal in three minutes.
"We got into some foul trouble and there were times that I had those three freshmen on the court," Laczkoski said. "Thank God they're going to be sophomores."
Thanks to the Lancers' two seniors, Notre Dame trailed just 15-14 after one, was tied at halftime 30-30 and led 44-42 going into the fourth quarter.
But then Weaver's physical play started to take its toll.
"They started to beat us up down low and force some turnovers," said Heaton, who finished with 15. "We started to make some mistakes and they started pulling away."
Along with Heaton's 15, Davidson added 14 while Jordan Pettway led the Lancers with 17. Andre Lyons paced Weaver (26-2) with 23, while Jaecee Martin had 13 and KeAndre Fair 12 in addition to Chalyn Martin's 14.
"We knew that this was going to be a really tough game. Notre Dame plays a style that's a lot similar to ours," Beavers coach Reggie Hatchett said. "That's probably the best tandem of guards that we've played against all year. But we were a little bigger up front and we kept talking about our run, we knew it was going to come. We've been a fourth-quarter team all season."
And this game was no exception. Try as the Lancers might, they could never get closer than eight (60-52) with 1:53 to play.
Still, Laczkoski was thrilled. Five of ND's seven losses this season were to Prep (LL finalist), Bunnell (L finalist), Sacred Heart (Class S finalist), Career (L semifinalist) and Weaver (M champion).
"We were 5-5 and we played in both (the) SWC championship and this (Class M) championship," Laczkoski said. "It's pretty special. We just didn't have enough tonight."
NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD (21-6)
CJ Davidson 5 4-5 14, Jake Heaton 4 7-7 15, Jordan Pettway 3 11-13 17, Norega Davis 2 1-3 5, Colin Burke 1 2-4 4, Woodley Monnexant 1 2-4 4, Ryan Keeley 0 0-0 0, Thomas Coleman 0 0-0 0, Justin Federici 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 16 27-36 59
Jaecee Martin 3 7-10 13, Chalyn Martin 3 7-11 14, KeAndre Fair 4 3-4 12, Willie James 2 0-1 4, Andre Lyons 9 5-8 23, Rakim George 0 0-0 0, Tyler Chambers 1 0-0 2, Jabrii Leary 0 0-0 0, Robert Harrison 2 0-0 5, Joaquin Figueroa 0 0-0 0, Julian Manning 0 0-0 0, Jaquan Williams 0 0-0 0, Marques Williams-Bey 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 22-35 73.
NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 14 16 14 15--59
WEAVER 15 15 12 31--73
3-pointers: W--C. Martin, Fair, Harrison. Fouled out: NDF--Heaton, J. Federici, Burke; W--James.