The 2013 SCC Final was not well played. It was not a sharp or crisp game. It was devoid of flow, and neither side was too pleased with the outcome.
“We played about our ‘C’ game,” Hillhouse coach Renard Sutton said.
Still, Hillhouse and Prep authored a terrifically-exciting game.
The Academics’ 53-47 overtime win over Prep gave them their third conference crown in five years.
Prep lamented its inability to execute in its half-court offense. The Jesuits turned the ball over 26 times and shot just 31 percent for the game.
“We only have ourselves to look at for not being able to execute in the half court,” Prep coach Leo Redgate said. “I’ll take the blame for that.”
Hillhouse only made 17 of 83 63 field goals (27 percent), but Raiquan Clark’s 17 points– 15 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime– proved the difference.
Clark gained the SCC Tournament’s most-outstanding player, despite not starting any of Hillhouse’s three tournament games.
“He’s our all-everything guy,” Sutton said of Clark. “He’s an exceptional player.”
Sutton told me he thought nerves came into play with his team’s abominable shooting night.
He also sent his team a message.
“I said to these guys, ‘if you’re a championship team, you can’t be scared,” Sutton said. “It’s human to be nervous, but if you’re a basketball player, you have to loosen up and play.”
Paschal Chukwu may have dominated defensively, but the junior center struggled to find a rhythm on offense.
Chukwu did not make a field goal– he did not even attempt a field goal after halftime– finishing with eight points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks.
“They did a great job on Paschal,” Redgate said. “Paschal had to play a little more passive than he had to. We were getting him the ball, and he wasn’t able to finish.”
The TD Bank Sports Center is a beautiful venue.
It really is the perfect size for a championship game. I’d like to see more games played there. Parking is convenient, the location is good, and there are ample refreshment stands and bathrooms.
Although, somehow the venue ran out of soft pretzels before tipoff.
These two teams have clearly defined themselves as two of the state’s best.
It’d be a pity, in this writer’s opinion, if we don’t get to see them play head-to-head again.
Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper. Follow him on Twitter here.