Notre Dame West Haven basketball team withstands challenge from West Haven

WEST HAVEN >> Trailing by five points and with a raucous gym ready to celebrate, the Notre Dame-West Haven basketball team showed why it is one of the best teams in the state.

With a game-ending 17-6 run, the Green Knights remained undefeated with a 79-73 Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision victory at West Haven High Friday evening.

Notre Dame’s Tremont Waters finished with a team-high 29 points. But it was a 3-pointer by junior Tim Dawson in the final minute which gave the Green Knights a four-point lead and effectively sealed the win for Notre Dame.

“I thought our leadership stepped up big tonight in a big game like this,” Notre Dame coach Jason Shea said. “Our confidence was building to that point and we got the big shot at the end. This is the loudest place we have played in this year. The West Haven crowd was into it and did a great job. I thought West Haven did a great job tonight. They were a tough team to play.”

When Josiah Steinman’s shot fell through the basket in the final 10 seconds of the third quarter, West Haven took a 58-57 lead to the fourth quarter. A pair of 3-pointers by Marquel Bookert and a bucket by Steinman with under five minutes remaining in the game had the gym rocking and West Haven on top 67-62.

“I thought our inexperience hurt us at the end,” West Haven coach Harry Bosley said. “We have to learn from this game. In front of a big crowd like this, you have to make good decisions at the end. We got tired at the end. Overall, I thought we played great.”

Notre Dame (15-0) turned up its defense and West Haven (9-6) did not hit another field goal until 1:12 remained. By that time, the Green Knights had made their run and took the lead for good.

“Our defense really picked it up,” Shea said. “We stepped up the defense and our pressure.”

An 8-0 run, which saw four points from Waters and ended with a bucket by Evan Blue, had the Green Knights on top 70-67.

“It started with our defense,” Waters said. “They are a tough team to guard. We had to contain them and when we did, we were able to get points off the fast break. We knew we had to keep playing. We got a huge three from Tim Dawson. That was big for us.”

Behind Waters, who scored 11 points in the opening quarter, Notre Dame scored the first 15 points of the game and held leads of 17-3 and 22-6 before West Haven battled back.

The Westies changed from a man defense to zone and got within 32-27 on a 3-pointer by Steinman and 36-33 to end the half on a pair of free throws by Steinman.

When Waters sank a pair of free throws, the Green Knights held a 51-47 lead with just over three minutes to go in the third. A 9-2 run by West Haven was capped with a bucket by Justin Santos to give West Haven a 56-53 lead.

“We went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the state,” Bosley said. “I feel bad for the guys. They worked so hard and wanted this.”

Dawson had 15 points for the Green Knights, while Jalanni White had 13, and Connor Raines added 10. Edwards led all scorers with 30 points, while Steinman scored 22 points and Bookert added 15 for West Haven.

“Games like this are getting us better and better,” Waters said. “We are staying together.”