BOYS' BASKETBALL: No. 4 Fairfield Prep handles Notre Dame-West Haven

WEST HAVEN — Fairfield Prep graduated the best player in the Southern Connecticut Conference last year in Terry Tarpey. But virtually everyone else returned for the Jesuits.

Throw in two key additions and the argument can be made that Prep is a better team.

The fourth-ranked Jesuits pulled away from Notre Dame-West Haven Friday night at Alumni Hall for a 74-57 SCC Quinnipiac Division win. Forward Tim Butala had a career-high 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds.

“I think we are very deep, very young and we play very good team basketball,” Fairfield Prep coach Leo Redgate said. “We never know who is going to show up and play good basketball.”

Said Notre Dame coach Gary Palladino: “They are bigger, stronger, quicker and more skilled. Butala is legit. There was only one all-state player on the floor and that was him.”

Among those in attendance was UConn head coach Kevin Ollie, who stayed from beginning to end, presumably watching one of Prep’s new additions this season: 7-foot center Paschal Chuwku.

“For him to come down and watch me is an honor,” Chuwku said.

Chuwku, a junior who transferred in from Trinity Catholic, finished with nine points and 11 rebounds for Prep (7-0, 2-0). He sat most of the second quarter with two fouls.

“This is a good team. Everyone plays together. Even without me, they still played together,” Chuwku said.

Said Redgate: “He needs to get a lot better. He is not anywhere near where he needs to be to be an outstanding basketball player.”

The Division I interest is obviously there. And with Chuwku and Butala patrolling the lane, the Green Knights (3-2, 0-1) produced very little offense in the paint.

“For years, the greatest coaches in the country will tell you the game is won and lost inside,” Palladino said.

Prep’s other addition, freshman guard Ryan Murphy, scored 18 points. Prep looks to be more complete and to have benefitted from last year’s run to the Class LL state tournament semifinals.

“I have a clear vision how we can play and we are not there yet,” Redgate said. “I don’t think we had our best stuff tonight and a lot of that credit goes to Notre Dame of West Haven. I think they are a team to be reckoned with.”

Notre Dame tried to stay within striking distance, but never got within single digits in the second half. Lonnie Blackwell, Joe Bongiorni and Kalane Ham all had 11 points for the Green Knights.

“I think we have a good team. Now we have to prove it,” Palladino said.

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