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East Catholic holds off Notre Dame-West Haven to win Div. I title

East Catholic erased an 11-point first half deficit to beat Notre Dame-West Haven to win the CIAC Division I championship Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Arena. (Photo courtesy CIAC)

UNCASVILLE, March 20, 2022 – In the final game of a weekend of championship basketball at the Mohegan Sun Arena, East Catholic and Notre Dame-West Haven took it right down to the wire.

No. 8 East Catholic won their seventh state championship Sunday night with a 50-49 victory over No. 2 Notre Dame-West Haven in the Division I championship game.

The Mohegan Sun Arena hosted 10 title games – Class LL, L, MM, M and S for the girls and Division I, II, III, IV and V for the boys — this weekend with five games on Saturday and five games on Sunday.

East Catholic had a tremendous night shooting the basketball, hitting on 61.8 percent of their shots, including sinking 5-of-8 from three-point range. James Jones led the Eagles (20-6) with a team-high 14 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and three assists while Allyn Wright, Robert Elliott and freshman Preston Fowler had nine points each.

The Green Knights, who are 0-4 in title games, were led by Andrew Lazarre with 16 points and Mekhi Connor and Timaury Gay with nine points each. Notre Dame had a nine-point lead early in the first quarter.

Notre Dame had an 11-point lead with 5:58 left in the second quarter but East Catholic closed out the quarter with a 15-4 run to take the lead for good. Wright had four points in the run while Fowler had seven points in the surge that gave the Eagles a two-point lead at halftime.

East Catholic led by one, 43-42 with 3:05 left before Jones hit a jumper with 1:47 to give the Eagles a three-point lead, 45-42. Luke Reilly’s three-point shot with 1:36 put East Catholic up by six, 48-42.

Still, Notre Dame wouldn’t quit. Gay drained a three-pointer for the Green Knights with 1:27 to cut the lead to three. Off an East Catholic turnover, Connor scored on a layup with 47 seconds left to cut the lead to one, 48-47.

Jones hit a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to extend the East Catholic lead to three, 50-47. At the defensive end of the floor, Jones blocked a three-point shot attempt from Gay with seven seconds to go. Gay got the rebound and drove to the basket, scoring at the buzzer, leaving the Green Knights one point short, 50-49.

Other state championship finals

Division IV: Bloomfield 58, Granby 54


Division II: Bristol Central 56, Northwest Catholic 36

Division III: Daniel Hand 56, Kolbe Cathedral 39

Division V: Windham 62, SMSA 56

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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