FAIRFIELD -- With his team solely responsible for Fairfield Prep's only three losses last season, Hillhouse coach Renard Sutton expected the Jesuits to have a chip on their shoulder when the teams met Saturday for the first time this year.
The Jesuits certainly played like they did.
Guards Ryan Murphy and Thomas Nolan scored 20 points apiece as top-ranked Prep pulled away from a tie at halftime to drop No. 2 Hillhouse 72-62 before 2,000 at Alumni Hall.
Murphy netted six of his points over an 8-0 spurt to open the second half, propelling his team to a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"Hillhouse, (Prep) coach Leo (Redgate) said, is known for being a second-half team, a very strong third-quarter team," Murphy said. "I think our guys realized that. We had to come out with a punch."
Prep limited Hillhouse to three field goals in the third and outscored its opponent 39-29 in the second half to move to 6-0. The Academics dropped to 3-1.
The victory meant a little extra to the Jesuits, who lost to Hillhouse in three of the four meetings last year, including in the SCC and Class LL championship games.
"This was really huge for us," said Prep center Paschal Chukwu, who recorded 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. "Coming into this game, as a team we had something to prove. Thinking about last year ... that's something that is up in your mind."
Before a packed home crowd, the Jesuits were energized from the start. Leading 20-17 after one quarter and tied 33-33 at halftime, the Jesuits never trailed. They led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, with only their struggles at the free throw line (22 for 39) keeping it close.
"This game's not as close if we hit half of those," Redgate said. "I told the guys in the locker room, `That's my fault for leaving them in there.' Next time, I'm not going to be so nice.
"You've got to hit your free throws, otherwise I can't have you on the floor."
Guard Shane Christie scored 23 points to lead a Hillhouse squad that graduated nine players from last year's title team. His backcourt mate, Raiquan Clark, added 18 points.
Trailing 49-39 after three quarters, the Academics never got within single digits again as Prep's perimeter defense proved unforgiving.
"What the new guys fail to realize is, you're not the guys that left," Sutton said. "You can't take a possession off to a team as good as they are." Read Full Article
The Academics attacked the basket early as the 7-foot Chukwu picked up two fouls in the game's first four minutes. But the Providence College-bound Chukwu stayed in, playing the majority of minutes before fouling out with 1:45 left.
"He's a smart guy," Redgate said. "Every time he got a foul, I made sure he knew what it was."
Troy Walters Jr. 0 0-0 0 Da'Quan Bowes 0 0-0 0 Dion Allick Boyd 1 0-0 2 Justin McClendon 3 0-0 6 Corey Barrett 0 0-0 0 Wayne Whyte II 0 0-0 0 John Lewis 2 2-2 8 Rashaan Boyd 0 0-0 0 Ellis Goodlow 0 0-0 0 Shane Christie 5 10-17 23 Raiquan Clark 8 2-4 18 Juan Carlos Sepulveda 1 0-0 3 Dontell Glover Jr. 1 0-0 2 Aaron White 0-0 0. Totals 21 14-23 62.
FAIRFIELD PREP (6-0)
Keith Pettway 1 6-11 8 Ryan Murphy 5 8-13 20 Thomas Nolan 7 4-6 20 Ray Featherston 0 0-0 0 Dave Zielinski 1 2-2 5 Ryan Foley 1 1-3 4 Joe DiGennaro 0 0-0 0 Van de Berghe Richard 0 0-0 0 Pascal Chukwu 7 1-4 15. Totals 22 22-39 72.
HILLHOUSE 17 16 6 23 -- 62
FAIRFIELD PREP 20 13 16 23 -- 72
3-pointers: H -- Cristie 3, Lewis 2, Sepulveda; FP -- Murphy 2, Nolan 2, Zielinski, Foley.
Fouled out: Chukwu.