The last time the West Haven and Jonathan Law basketball teams squared off, the Westies got off to a quick start, only to see Law rebound to force a thriller in which West Haven handed Law its first defeat of the year.
Fast forward two weeks and the start was just the same.
The biggest difference came in the way the Westies followed up as West Haven never slowed down and raced to a 72-49 Southern Connecticut Conference Quinnipiac Division victory at West Haven High Friday evening.
“We learned from the last game,” West Haven coach Tyrese Sullivan said. “We have been preaching all season we have to learn from one game to the next. We want to learn from our mistakes.”
West Haven, which won its second straight contest and seventh game in its last eight decisions, improved to 11-6 on the year after getting off to a 15-2 first quarter lead and never looking back.
Quannel Straughter, who finished with a game-high 24 points, knocked down three 3-pointers in the opening quarter and finished with ten of his team’s 15 first quarter points. The Westies pressured from the start and held Law to just a first quarter field goal by Jon Vitale.
Law, which opened the game without Diontae Eady as he missed practice due to illness, never seemed in sync in the first eight minutes with the Westies jumping out to a 13-point lead.
“Their guards are amazing,” Law coach Jamie Anderson said of West Haven. “They are very, very good. It’s not just (Mufee) Cooper and (Quannel) Straughter. They have other guys who do a lot for them. They have four or five guys who can hit 3’s. We wanted to stop them from getting to the basket, but they hurt us from the outside. They do a lot of good things. They are a very good Division III team.”
As was the case in the first meeting of the year, Law (14-3) made a run in the second quarter and got as close as 16-8 on a bucket by Zane Birks. The Westies then scored the next seven points on a 3-pointer by Mufee Cooper and two baskets by Tyrese Hargrove for a 23-8 lead.
“We just started the game attacking,” Cooper said after finishing with 16 points. “When you are facing the number two team in the SCC, you can’t start slow. We got off to a good start. When they stopped us inside, we were able to go outside.”
The Westies closed the first half on a 14-3 run, which saw perfect ball movement around the court, and seven second quarter points by Cooper, including his 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 30-11 halftime advantage.
“We are gaining confidence,” Cooper said. “A lot of us are playing varsity for the first time. This is a new team and a new coach.”
The Westies kept the pressure on in the third quarter and extended the lead to 21 points, 37-16, on another 3-pointer by Cooper. West Haven stretched the lead to 24 points on a bucket by Laron Holmes and Law never got back into the contest.
“We condition like it is preseason,” Sullivan said. “When everyone is tired, we are getting stronger. I like the tempo. You always need to keep a bench. That is very important.”
Hargrove finished with 13 points for the Westies, including a pair of 3-pointers as the Westies connected 10 times from long range in the game.
Vitale led Law with 11 points.