NEW CANAAN -- The St. Joseph boys basketball team stormed out of the starting blocks at New Canaan High School Tuesday night, scoring 18 of the game's first 21 points before claiming its third straight win to start the season, a 73-55 triumph over the Rams.
St. Joseph's Quincy McKnight scored a game-high 19 points, including 15 in the first half to pace the Cadets' quick start. McKnight was instrumental in helping his team build the early lead, highlighted by a dunk of an ally-oop pass from Reid Raekwon.
"Our guys defended real well today. We wanted to come out and defend full court," St. Joseph coach Chris Watts said. "We know New Canaan is coached by a great coach and they run a lot of good stuff. We wanted to defend their shooters and stop their back doors. We made a good adjustment and sort of slowed their tempo down."
With the exception of a lopsided first quarter in which his team was outscored 23-7, there were several positives to take out of the setback for first-year New Canaan coach Mike Evans, who is still searching for his first win two games into his tenure.
"I told them the deficit killed us, but we had 17 first-half turnovers and only five second-half turnovers," Evans said. "Matt Swift gave great minutes to guarding (McKnight). He doesn't care if he starts or finishes, so it's a great attitude from him, and he's also sprinting the floor harder than anybody. Henry Lavieri rebounds with anybody and he always calms us down. Andrew Read is an offensive threat and he's vocally encouraging when we need it most."
In addition to the monster night by McKnight, St. Joseph also received important contributions from Reid, Jonny Dzurenda and Mike Sulik, who notched nine, eight and eight points, respectively. The story of the game for Watts, however, was his team's defense.
"Defense is our bread and butter. We've got to play rim to rim. We're not big, so we've got to make it ugly and we've got to trap all over the place," Watts said. "To sustain this kind of running around all year is to be seen. We don't know if we can do it, but we're going to sure enough try."
St. Joseph continued to add to its lead with a 10-2 run to start the second quarter, which included five points by Reid.
Facing a 44-19 halftime hole, the Rams came out firing on all cylinders and went on a 13-2 run to start the third quarter. Henry Lavieri bookended the solid second half start with a pair of 3-pointers.
New Canaan managed to win both the third and fourth quarters, but due to the enormous early deficit, it never got closer than 48-34 midway through the third.
"That's the key to it, is what happened early. That deficit that we created early for ourselves early on we could never overcome. We have some positives that we're coming away with. The guys never quit," Evans said. "I didn't even know that (New Canaan won the third and fourth quarters), but it's very encouraging. It's the first thing I'll say tomorrow."
New Canaan's Claude Chadonnet helped spark the Rams' run by sinking 10 of his team-high 13 points in the second half, followed by 10 points from Chris Andrews and eight points from Lavieri.
New Canaan gets another tough early-season test when it travels to take on Bridgeport Central on Friday at 7 p.m. St. Joseph looks to make it four-for-four on the young season when it hosts Darien on Thursday at 7 p.m.
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St. Joseph 73, New Canaan 55
ST. JOSEPH (3-0, 3-0 FCIAC)
Quincy MckNight, 8 2-2 19, Rakwon Reid 2 5-6 9, Jonny Czurenda 4 0-0 8, Mike Sulik 3 2-2 8, Jake Pelletier 1 2-2 5, Judenick Florian 1 3-3 5, Erick Langston 2 1-15, Kahlil Smith 1 2-6 4, Charles Fisher, 2 0-0 4, Rich Kelly 1 0-0 3, Steve Hashemi 1 0-0 2, Tyshon Williams 0 1-2 1, Denzel Moscova 0 0-2 0. Totals: 26 18-26 73.
NEW CANAAN (0-2, 0-2 FCIAC)
Claude Chadonnet 5 2-3 13, Zach Allen 4 2-3 10, Henry Lavieri 3 0-0 8, Erik Jager 2 2-2 6, Matt Swift 2 2-2 6, Andrew Penchuck 3 0-0 6, Paul Hagopian 1 0-0 2, Andrew Read 1 0-0 2, Max Urbahn 0 2-2 2, Beau Santero 0 0-2 0. Totals: 21 10-14 55.
ST. JOSEPH 23 19 14 17--73
NEW CANAAN 7 12 17 19--55
3-Pointers: SJ -- Pelletier, McKnight, Kelly. NC -- Lavieri 2, Y. Chandonnet.