Unbeaten No. 4 Notre Dame-WH boys basketball uses big run to put away No. 10 Wilbur Cross

WEST HAVEN — It took Notre Dame-West Haven a little over a quarter to get its bearings.

But it did just that in the opening minutes of the second quarter, going on a 20-0 run that fueled the fourth-ranked Green Knights to a 78-59 Southern Connecticut Conference Hammonasset Division victory over 10th-ranked Wilbur Cross Friday night at Tonelli Court.

Just 11 days earlier, Notre Dame (14-0) downed Wilbur Cross, 69-61, in a tight game in the Green Knights’ closest game of the season. This time, it wasn’t as close as Notre Dame was out to prove itself worthy of its lofty ranking.

“We had to see how the game flow was,” Notre Dame coach Jason Shea said. “We had a great start to the second quarter, but they had a great end to the second quarter on a 10-0 run. They did a nice job to make it competitive.”

After Fredo Delgado tied things at 12-12 just 37 seconds into the second quarter, Notre Dame scored the next 20 points over 3:27 with consecutive three-pointers by Timaury Gay (12 points), Andrew Lazarre (11 points) and Mekhi Conner (10 points) in the middle of the spurt.

“We were hoisting up too many shots (in the first quarter),” said Notre Dame’s Tajae Jones, who led all scorers with 24 points. We had to pick up the intensity and not force up so many shots. And when we play defense, it opens up the offensive side.”

Wilbur Cross missed a bunch of shots during that Green Knights’ run, but finally broke through as Camar’ee Wiliams (21 points) stole the ball in front of the basket and converted a layup with 3:01 left until halftime.

Williams scored the final 10 points for the Governors in the opening half as they closed the gap to 34-22 at the break.

“They are an explosive offensive team,” Wilbur Cross coach Kevin Walton said. “At times, they also sped us up more than we wanted.”

Wilbur Cross got as close as eight points, 41-33, on a pair of free throws by Christian McClease (15 points) with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter as Notre Dame got sloppy and was cold from the field.

But the Green Knights went on another big spurt to close out the final 2:42 of the third quarter, scoring the final 13 points to grab a 58-35 lead.

“We’re a pretty relentless bunch of kids,” Shea said. “They keep coming back in the face of runs. It’s pretty difficult for teams to sustain anything against us. I thought we did a good job of answering the bell every time.”

Wilbur Cross cut the deficit to 62-45 on a Williams’ layup with 6:08 to go but that was as close as the Governors could get.

Another run by Notre Dame — this time 8-1 — gave the Green Knights their biggest lead of the night, 72-47, with 2:16 remaining.

“They are definitely capable of competing with us,” Shea said. “I’m sure we’ll see them down the road.”

The opening quarter was played at a frantic pace with both teams committing plenty of turnovers.

Cross went on a 7-0 run to grab a 7-2 just 1:53 into the contest with Chris McClease’s baseline drive closing out the spurt.

But Notre Dame came right back with a trey from Mekhi Conner and a layup by Gay to tie it at 7-7 just 53 seconds later.

Jordan Elliott’s three-pointer and a jumper by Jones gave the Green Knights a 12-10 edge after the first eight minutes.

“I feel we can always play better, but I feel it was my best game,” Jones said. “I cut to the basket, ran the floor — everything.”

Wilbur Cross fell to 8-4 with the loss.

“At the end of the day, we know what we have to do to improve,” Walton said. “We have some more games to get it together. We can’t worry about this game. We have Prep Monday and (top-ranked) Bristol Central Wednesday.”


Tajae Jones, Notre Dame-West Haven was the game’s high scorer with 24 points.


“I’m not into messages right now. We’re into how we finish. But if I was into messages, how many more can we send?”

— Notre Dame-West Haven coach Jason Shea.