NEW CANAAN — They say defense wins championships, and St. Luke’s knows a little something about winning championships.
Behind an inspired defensive performance, the second-seeded Storm defeated No. 3 Greens Farms Academy Thursday evening at home to advance the FAA finals.
“That’s all we’ve really been talking about — defending,” first-year Storm coach Tony Newsom said. “And once we defend, getting out and pushing the ball and the guys do a great job of sharing the ball and making the extra pass.”
Luke’s will be aiming for its third-straight FAA title when it visits No. 1 Hamden Hall Saturday. The Hornets have defeated St. Luke’s twice this season, first by 19 points and most recently by a 64-55 score on Feb. 3.
“We said from the last time that we played them if we play them again that it’s just about us getting better and I think we have,” Newsom said. “Especially defensively I think we’re playing a lot better than we were. They’re a well-coached team, a very good team and we’ll show up and see what we can do.”
Thursday was an exhibition of what the Storm could do. Three players — Andrew Varoli (20), Jonas Harper (15) and Jackson Ryan (14) hit double figures and St. Luke’s combined for 11 3-pointers in the win.
Even eighth-grader Jah’khi Washington made his presence felt, disrupting on the defensive end and scoring eight points in the first half.
“We’re unstoppable if we play all three levels,” Harper said. “Layups, 3s, mid-range jump shots, it makes us unpredictable, so I feel like were unstoppable if we do that.”
After the Dragons cut the lead to nine in the first half, a John Wisdom put-back and a Varoli 3 gave the Storm some breathing room. Jackson Selvala’s buzzer-beating layup gave St. Luke’s a 37-21 halftime lead at the break.
GFA was led by Cole Prowitt-Smith and his 17 points, but the talented wing could only do so much as Luke’s hounded him all day.
“He’s tough, and guess what? St. Luke’s knew that,” GFA coach Doug Scott said. “He’s trying to beat multiple coverages and we just didn’t have a lot of options.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Harper, St. Luke’s. The senior guard facilitated the offense and put up 15 points of his own, but his real impact came at the defensive end. With an opportunity Saturday for his third FAA title in as many years, Harper only has one thing on his mind.
“Just win,” he said. “Try to go out with three championships for the seniors…we’ll do anything to win.”
NAIL IN THE COFFIN
Late in the second half, St. Luke’s put the game away for good with four consecutive possessions resulting in 3-pointers — three from Varoli with one from Harper thrown in.Read Full Article
“He’s such an outstanding shooter and he works on it,” Newsom said of Varoli, who finished the game with six triples. “Every time he shoots, I think the ball is going in the basket.”
Over the past few years, the GFA and St. Luke’s battles have transcended the typical conference rivalry, often playing each other with more than bragging rights on the line.
“Our performance today was a dishonor to the greatness of that rivalry, but it’s been unbelievable,” Scott said. “It’s fun, never a dull moment. I love their fans, it’s great noise. We have to improve our hand signals every time we play here because we can’t hear each other.”
NO. 2 ST. LUKE’S 81, NO.3 GREENS FARMS ACADEMY 57
GREENS FARMS ACADEMY
Bennett Close 4 3-4 12; Cole Prowitt-Smith 6 2-2 17; Tyrone Holloway 1 0-0 2; David Basich 2 2-4 7; Henry Holzinger 2 2-2 7; Teddy Brown 0 1-2 1; Max Mitchell 3 2-2 9. Totals: 15 12-16 57.
Jah’khi Washington 4 0-0 8; Kenny Soares 0 1-2 1; Andrew Varoli 7 0-0 20; Jackson Ryan 5 2-4 14; Jonas Harper 5 3-3 15; Cole Bryant 2 0-0 4; Nick Brown 1 0-0 3; Jackson Selvala 3 0-2 6; John Wisdom 2 0-0 4; Scott Vollmer 3 0-0 6. Totals: 32 6-11 81.
GREENS FARMS ACADEMY 21 36—57
ST. LUKE’S 37 44—81
3-pointers: GFA—Close, Prowitt-Smith 3, Basich, Holzinger, Mitchell; STL—Varoli 6, Ryan 2, Harper 2, Brown.