Sacred Heart boys overcome slow start, win Class L opener

Sacred Heart’s Legend Johnson keeps his eyes on Joel Barlow’s Tommy Rossini.

No. 32 Joel Barlow put up a good fight in the first half of Tuesday’s Class L boys basketball first round game against top-seeded Sacred Heart at Alumni Hall.
Then the Hearts, minus the injured Raheem Solomon, showed the speed and scoring balance that still makes them a tough team to beat.
Sacred Heart led by six at halftime, but turned on the jets in the second half and wound up with a 71-53 victory. The Hearts will host No. 16 Northwest Catholic, a 65-48 winner over fellow CCC foe (No. 17) Wethersfield, on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Sacred Heart again showed good offensive balance. Legend Johnson led four Hearts in double figures with 22 points. Michael West had 15 points, Isaiah Gaiter put in 12 and Courie Stevenson added 10.

Michael West with the aggressive take to the basket.

Sacred Heart had a precarious 22-20 lead with two minutes left in the half, but pushed it to 26-20 by halftime. In the third quarter, the Hearts put the game away. Sacred Heart played better defense and turned the pace of the game in its favor, which resulted in some fast break baskets. Even without Solomon, the Hearts are still a team willing and able to run.
There was some good hustle on display as well. On one late third quarter play, Tariq Price couldn’t control a pass from Isaiah Gaiter. Price chased the ball down before it could go out of bounds, however, and saved it to West. West made a move and scored on a runner, and Sacred Heart led 50-31 after three quarters.
It will take a team effort for the Hearts to continue to advance in Class L, and that’s what they got in their first round win over the Falcons.