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Notre Dame Cruises Into Conference Semis

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – When Weston High trimmed Notre Dame of Fairfield’s once-commanding lead to just three points late in the third quarter, the Lancers did not waste anytime in turning up the heat.

The result was a commanding 18-2 run by the Lancers over the next seven minutes to pull away en route to a 64-45 win Saturday over the Trojans. The win in the first round of the South-West Conference playoffs at Masuk High School was Notre Dame’s 12th straight. The Lancers will play next in the conference semifinals Tuesday.

“To beat a good team like that feels good,’’ coach Vin Laczkoski said after the Lancers improved to 17-4. “You can’t play much better defense than we did in the first half and in the fourth quarter.”

Dan Upchurch scored 21 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to lead Notre Dame. Earl Coleman added 14, and Arkel Miles had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Notre Dame held Weston to one field goal in the first quarter and led 13-5 after the first eight minutes. The Lancers stretched the lead to 21-7 midway through the second quarter and had a 28-15 edge at halftime.

Weston closed it to three points twice in the third quarter, the last time at 35-32 with 1:55 remaining on a basket by Evan Blitzer. Weston finished the quarter with a 7-0 run, capped by Upchurch’s three-pointer with 41 seconds remaining. Weston had just one field goal in the first 5:15 of the second half as Notre Dame pulled away, building a 53-34 lead with 3:04 left. Max Molinsky's three-pointer with 2:45 left ended a scoreless drought of nearly four minutes for Weston.

Weston started slowly, missing its first seven shots and going scoreless until 2:18 was left in the first quarter. Coleman led Notre Dame’s offense early, while Upchurch delivered late. “I knew I had a mismatch, and I asked coach if he could get me the ball,’’ Coleman said. “If the shot wasn’t there we kicked it out. We played well as a team.”

Now Notre Dame will try to repeat as league champion.

“We’re looking forward to defending our league championship,’’ Coleman said. “It’s ours until somebody knocks us off. We don’t want to let it go.”

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