Friday, March 18, 2016

Sacred Heart goes for third straight state title; Notre Dame-Fairfield stands in the way

The top-seeded Sacred Heart boys basketball team (25-2 overall) will play for its third straight state championship today at 3 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Standing in the way of that quest is sixth-seeded Notre Dame-Fairfield (24-3). The Lancers have reached the title game with victories over No. 27 Enfield (73-49), No. 11 Ansonia (68-63), No. 3 Cromwell (55-52) and No. 10 Northwest Catholic (81-79).
Notre Dame returns to the Class M state championship game after losing to Weaver last year, 73-59. The Lancers are 0-2 overall in title games. 
Notre Dame is led by All-SWC First Team players Jesse McIntosh and Jordan Pettway. McIntosh is a 6-foot-4 senior and Pettway is a 5-10 senior. Both are captains for the Lancers, and McIntosh was the league MVP.
According to a story from Doug Bonjour of the Connecticut Post, Notre Dame has been without 6-5 junior Colin Burke (broken hand) for the entire state tournament. The loss of height definitely hurts against Sacred Heart.
You know who the main names are for Sacred Heart. There's 6-5 senior Mustapha Heron, a dominant guard who will play for Bruce Pearl at Auburn this fall. Heron was passed over for Gatorade Player of the Year for the second straight time in what was an absolutely mystifying decision.
The Hearts also have 6-8 senior Tyrn Flowers, who can do a little bit of everything. Six-foot-two senior Charles Fisher is a glue guy and tough defender on the outside. Six-nine senior J.T. Riddick provides shot-blocking on the interior for Sacred Heart. You can't forget about 6-3 sophomore Raheem Solomon, who has been solid. The Hearts also have 6-2 junior Courie Stevenson, who has provided good minutes for his team.
Sacred Heart is 7-2 all-time in state championship games, including victories in the 2014 and 2015 Class S contests over Valley Regional. The Hearts have claimed wins in their last five championship game appearances (also won in 2009, 1997 and 1984).
Sacred Heart will enter tomorrow's championship game on a 53-game winning streak. Jon Carroll had this to say about his team's shot at three straight titles at yesterday's state championship luncheon in Southington:
"You know, it is in the back of their minds. The back-to-back was special. We've had a target on our backs the entire season. You get everybody's best shot, and kids are kids. They hear chatter and talk. They've done a magnificent job of just being kids and playing."
Today, the Hearts have a chance to make their championship run a trilogy of greatness. 

The game is being televised live on CPTV Sports, and you can also catch the livestream from the NFHS Network here. There will also be plenty of media coverage on Twitter before, during and after the game.

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