BOYS' BASKETBALL: North Haven's McDonald scores school-record 43 points, but West Haven wins high-scoring affair

WEST HAVEN — North Haven boys’ basketball coach Pete Civitello planned on stopping West Haven’s Tieron Jackson and letting others beat the Indians.

North Haven did a nice job guarding Jackson, but Civitello’s fear came true.

The Westies got offensive production from just about everyone on the floor and scored a season-high in points with an 89-86 victory Tuesday night at West Haven High.

“You have to tip your hat to them,” Civitello said after his team dropped to 5-3 with its third straight loss. “They did not miss. It seemed like everyone they put in hit a shot.”

The Westies (3-6) were hot from the start, scoring the first 10 points of the game to take a 21-13 lead after the first quarter. With the Indians pressuring Jackson, West Haven’s other shooters, Michael Jennings and Gary Dudley, stepped up.

Dudley was on fire and could not be stopped from the outside.

When all was said and done, Dudley continued to connect from the outside, hitting nine 3-pointers and finishing with 34 points.

“We came out on fire,” West Haven coach Harry Bosley said. “I asked him (Dudley) what he ate today. Every time they doubled on Mike (Jennings), he (Dudley) made them pay. He made every big shot all the way through.”

Jennings, who finished the game with 13 points, and Dudley set the tone with two early 3-pointers to give West Haven a 6-0 lead. When Jackson and Dudley followed with baskets, North Haven was in chase mode.

The Westies got the lead as big as 11 points in the closing minute of the quarter on another 3-pointer by Dudley and led 21-13 at the end of the first.

“We came out early knowing we were going to be on Tieron,” Civitello said. “He is a great player, definitely one of the best I have seen. We did not do a good job talking and they hit some wide open 3s. We made some adjustments but their kid (Dudley) was great.”

The Indians chipped away the entire game and got as close as three points twice in the fourth quarter.

Spencer Oakes cut the deficit to 69-66 and Billy McDonald got the Indians within 72-69 with a 3-pointer. McDonald hit another 3-pointer late to get North Haven within 87-84 but it was not enough.

“I told them the team effort tonight was great,” Civitello said. “We showed a lot of character coming back after halftime.

“The problem is when you are down that many, any mistake you make hurts. We were down 14 at the half and got it to three or four a few times. We would make one mistake and they would hit a 3. They shot very well tonight.”

McDonald could not be stopped.

McDonald, a senior, finished with a school-record 43 points, including four 3-pointers. Dominic Schioppo scored 16 for the Indians.

Dudley scored 12 points in the second quarter and helped the Westies take a 50-36 lead to the half. West Haven closed the half on a 12-4 run after North Haven had cut the deficit to 38-32. Dudley started the run with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws by Jackson ended the run before the half.

“We were up 14 but I was still concerned,” Bosley said. “I knew we were going to have a difficult time stopping them. In the second half, we were still able to continue scoring.

“I thought after the first half, we might cool off. We really put a nail in them. A game like this is huge for our confidence.”

Darius Coleman (13 points, 11 rebounds) opened the third quarter with a basket to give West Haven its biggest advantage of the second half at 52-36.

A 16-5 run, led by McDonald, got North Haven within 57-52 in the third quarter.

The Indians had a golden opportunity to close the gap in the fourth quarter. With 4 minutes remaining, Jackson, who scored 18 points, fouled out.

Jackson’s last point of the game, a free throw, gave West Haven a 70-66 lead.

“I thought when he (Jackson) fouled out we could go get them,” Civitello said. “Other guys stepped up for them.”

The game was decided at the free-throw line. The Westies outscored North Haven 25-12 from the line, connecting on 25-of-38 opportunities. North Haven finished 12-for-18.

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