FAIRFIELD -- Ridgefield coach Carl Charles called the Fairfield Prep basketball team "the best team we've faced all year." Jesuits guard Thomas Nolan called Prep's performance Saturday night "our best performance this year, by far." Put that all together, and you get Class LL's No. 1 team moving into the semifinals in convincing fashion. The top-seeded Jesuits shot 52 percent in the first half, rolling to a 63-42 victory over the ninth-seeded Tigers at Alumni Hall. "I think we had a game plan," Prep coach Leo Redgate said, "and the boys executed it almost to perfection."
Nolan and freshman guard Ryan Murphy each paced Prep with 17 points. The Jesuits advance to the Class LL semifinals for the third straight year and will meet No. 5 East Hartford on Tuesday night at Wilby High in Waterbury. "My teammates got me the ball where I was open," Nolan said. "Hopefully I have that for the semifinals."
Kurt Steidl and Patrick Racy each scored 10 for Ridgefield. The Tigers shot just 17-for-50 (34 percent), ending their season 18-6. "They're very good," Charles said. "They're very talented. What are you going to do, they played an 'A' game."
The Tigers made just seven of 24 first-half field goals -- with Steidl scoring eight of his 10. Prep, on the other hand, was 8-for-11 (73 percent) through one quarter, as Nolan canned three first-half 3-pointers. "We were taking good shots," Nolan said. "We stuck to our game plan, and that's why I think we were so sufficient at making shots."
"When they shoot like that, you're not going to beat them," Charles said.
Prep's 7-foot center Paschal Chukwu dominated inside, grabbing seven first-half rebounds, blocking two shots and altering several others. Chukwu finished with seven points, eight rebounds and four blocks with Providence College coach Ed Cooley on hand scouting him. "(Chukwu) got into our heads there," Charles said. "He pinned two or three right away early."
Murphy, Nolan and senior forward Tim Butala each canned 3-pointers on Prep's 11-0 first-quarter run, giving the Jesuits a 16-2 lead just 5:15 into the game. "They have a lot of answers," Charles said. "They have an excellent player at every position." Butala's three-point play and Nolan's 3-pointer capped Prep's run at 17-4. The Jesuits led 22-10 after one. "I think our guys worked very hard," Redgate said. "Our guys were very patient, and we knew where to get guys the ball ... where they're most comfortable."
Steidl's personal 6-0 run helped the Tigers get within 10 early in the second. But Murphy and Chukwu boosted Prep to an 8-0 run, enhancing its spurt to 13-5, giving the Jesuits a 35-15 halftime lead. Prep kept its foot down, opening the second half with seven straight points, capped by Chukwu's highlight-reel finish on Nolan's lob from halfcourt. Chukwu caught Nolan's pass, spun, staying in the air, and reverse-dunked it, putting Prep up 42-15. "Tonight was our night," Redgate said. "We played well."
Class LL quarterfinals
RIDGEFIELD (18-6) Kurt Steidl 5 0-0 10 Patrick Racy 5 0-0 10 Jonathan Hicks 2 1-2 5 Zach Ward 2 0-0 4 Jeff Racy 0 1-2 1 Chipper McClelland 1 3-3 5 Matt Brennan 2 1-1 5 Daniel Greenberg 0 2-2 2 Andrew Barton 0 0-0 0 Christopher Brewl 0 0-0 0 Thomas Haughney 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 8-10 42.
FAIRFIELD PREP (23-2) Rich Sekerak 0 0-0 0 Keith Pettway 1 0-0 2 Ryan Murphy 6 4-6 17 Thomas Nolan 6 1-3 17 Dave Zielinski 3 0-0 8 Ryan Foley 1 0-0 3 Joe DiGennaro 1 0-0 2 Quinn Lincoln 0 0-0 0 Chris Kelly 0 0-0 0 Tim Butala 2 2-3 7 Paschal Chukwu 3 1-3 7. Totals 23 8-15 63.
ThuAug21Senior Retreat/Orientation (8:00 - 12:00)8:00 AM to 12:00 PM
FriAug22Sophomore/Junior Orientation (8:00 - 12:05)8:00 AM to 12:05 PM
MonAug25First Day of Classes12:00 AM to 12:00 AM
MonAug25Mothers Welcome Back Coffee8:30 AM to 10:30 AM
MonAug25Mothers' Welcome Back Coffee8:30 AM to 10:30 AMBrissette Gym
MonSep01Labor Day - No Classes (Offices Closed)12:00 AM to 12:00 AM
WedSep03SEED Parent - Son Meeting7:00 PM to 8:30 PMBerchmans Cafeteria
FriSep05Mass of the Holy Spirit12:30 PMAlumni HallSt. Ignatius of Loyola Alumni Service Award will be presented. School will follow an early dismissal schedule. Parents and Alumni are welcome to attend.
FriSep05Mass of the Holy Spirit (classes end at 12:05)12:30 PM to 1:30 PMAlumni Hall