Jesuits roar back to reach SCC title game

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So much went down in last night’s first SCC semifinal that I don’t even know where to begin.

I guess we’ll start with Fairfield Prep reaching the conference finals for the first time since 1995. The Jesuits came from 16 points down to beat third-seeded Wilbur Cross, 68-59, at East Haven High School.

Ryan Murphy scored 25 points, Paschal Chukwu scored eight, blocked 10 shots and grabbed 12 rebounds. Thomas Nolan also added 13 points.

All 46 of their points came off the bench, as Jesuits coach Leo Redgate went with a senior-laden starting lineup. Redgate and I spoke earlier on Monday, and he hinted that he was considering starting three seniors– Rich Sekerak, Chris Kelly and Quinn Lincoln– instead of Chukwu, Murphy and Nolan.

The result was a 15-0 Wilbur Cross run. Even after Chukwu, Murphy and Nolan returned at the first’s 1:23 mark, the Governors built a 17-1 lead after one. The Jesuits missed their first 16 shots, and Joshua Fleming scored 11 of his game-high 33 in the first.

Although the Governors led by 16, Wilbur Cross coach Kevin Walton thought his club left points on the court. Cross was just 10-for-22 from the foul line.

“We’re not going to second guess ourselves,” Walton said. “We left some points on the board.”

Prep made the Governors pay from there, outscoring Cross 67-42 in the final three quarters.

So many people texted, tweeted, and called to ask about Redgate’s decision to start his three non-starters Monday.

Redgate adamantly denied any disciplinary action against Murphy, Nolan and Chukwu. He swore that his decision to start Sekerak, Kelly and Lincoln was to reward his seniors.

“The seniors deserved it,” Redgate said. “I thought, win or lose, the first quarter was going to be there, and they deserve it.”

Walton did not know why Redgate started his seniors, but Walton knew that, once Prep went to its ordinary lineup, the Jesuits would come back.

“I don’t know why they sat their starters, and I’m not concerned why,” Walton said. “We knew a 17-1 lead in the first quarter was not safe.”

Walton was exceedingly disappointed with the officiating.

“I think my team made enough plays to win the game and deserved to win the game,” Walton said. “And that should decide the outcome.”

He would not comment further for fear of further retribution.

Personally, I thought the three officials were too involved.

Almost lost amid the comeback was Prep’s fearless guards dominating again.

Nolan and Murphy took the game over in the second half, scoring 26 second-half points and 19 in the fourth quarter.

Chukwu also dominated defensively from the minute he entered. In his first defensive possession, he blocked a shot.

Chukwu would not comment on a report that he was offered a scholarship from UConn.

Our Kevin Duffy reported Monday that Chukwu was offered a full scholarship. Chukwu was asked, but said “I’m midseason, I’m not really thinking about that right now.”

Now, onto the dream matchup: Hillhouse vs. Fairfield Prep round 3.

The state’s two top teams will meet for the third time. The Jesuits and Academics split the first two rounds, with each winning on the other’s home floor.

Tuesday night’s showdown will go down at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden at 7 p.m.

Redgate’s thoughts on playing Hillhouse?

“We played them twice, I see them in my sleep. If they beat us, they beat us.”

I’ll be there, tweeting live updates. I’ll also chime in with a blog post immediately after the game.

Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper. Follow him on Twitter here.

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