Mayo leads Notre Dame-Fairfield past New Fairfield, to 3rd straight SWC title

SOUTHBURY — When it comes to girls’ basketball in recent years, the SWC has been at the mercy of the Notre Dame-Fairfield dynasty.

On Thursday, the top-seeded Lancers defeated No. 2 New Fairfield 46-30 to claim their third consecutive conference championship.

“This one felt really good,” Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Maria Conlon said. “We have overcome a lot this year. We played an intentionally tough schedule to prepare for the postseason, and New Fairfield is a really good team. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a run deep into the state tournament.”

Notre Dame becomes the third program since the turn of the century to win three straight SWC titles, following Masuk (2002-04) and Lauralton Hall (2012-14).

Senior guard Aizhanique Mayo was named the tournament MVP for the third consecutive year, as the Marquette commit led all scorers in the championship with 15 points.

“It feels great, I mean three years in a row means we did something, and we accomplished our goals,” Mayo said. “Moving forward we are ready for states now. Knowing that my last two years that we didn’t have states, my final year it is great to get an opportunity to win it.”

Senior guard Kayla Tilus contributed 13 points for Notre Dame, with a key 3 in the first quarter as the Lancers trailed early.

“This one is definitely special because we have been working at this for so long,” Tilus said. “We have wanted the three-peat and we were with Maria Conlon since we got here. Our third year means something.”

Sophomore forward Caitlyn Rea led New Fairfield in scoring with 13 points, while sophomore guard Jadyn Brenneman contributed 11.

Notre Dame fell behind early in the first quarter. Having not scored in the first six minutes and trailing 10-0, Conlon called a timeout.

“When you come out and you want to play really well and you want your shots to go in, you tend to play a little tight at the beginning,” Conlon said. “I think that is what we did, we missed some layups off the rip that we normally don’t miss which put us behind, but I knew once we settled in that eventually our shots would go and they did.”

With 1:33 left in the first Notre Dame began to roar back, scoring seven quick points to New Fairfield’s two to end the quarter trailing 12-7.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start,” New Fairfield coach Brendan Moore said. “We just couldn’t hold on; their zone is super long, and we are not the tallest group ourselves, so it was tough to get around and through them at times, to their credit.”

Notre Dame held the Rebels to just five points in the second quarter while doubling its point total from the first quarter to lead 21-17.

“The last couple times we had played them it had been tough,” Conlon said. “We seem to always get into foul trouble when we play them, so tonight it was nice to keep a bunch of our players on the floor for the majority of the game.”

In the regular season when the teams met, the Lancers walked away with a narrow 45-40 victory, but had played much of the game without Mayo.

“Mayo played nine minutes that game,” Conlon said. “When you take her off the floor for that amount of time against a good team it is tough.”

Notre Dame outscored New Fairfield 12-9 in the third quarter for a 33-26 lead, and in the fourth the Lancers defense allowed just four points to silence the Rebels.

“It took a lot for us to get here, we beat some really good teams along the way,” Moore said. “I am really proud of our kids for getting to the SWC championship. These kids we have are kids who battle all the time, and they are never going to stop playing. We are hoping to carry this momentum from a really good run here to the Class M state tournament.”

For Conlon and Notre Dame, which has spent the majority of the last three seasons as the top ranked team in the state according to the GameTimeCT girls’ basketball poll, the upcoming state tournament has been highly anticipated.

“It is kind of weird because last year we knew this was going to be our last game of the year,” Conlon said. “We are in a really tough class, I think Class L is the deepest of any out there, so we have our work cut out for us in the next couple of weeks.”

Will.Aldam@hearstmediact.com; @AldamWill

NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 46,

NEW FAIRFIELD 30

NEW FAIRFIELD 12 5 9 4 — 30

NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 7 14 12 13 — 46

NF -Jadyn Brenneman 4 0 3-6 11, Gabbi Arterberry 1 0 0-0 2, Kelly Ford 2 0 0-0 4, Caitlyn Rea 4 0 5-5 13. Record: 18-5.

NDF - Taylor Gibbs 4 0 0-0 6, Sarah Macary 2 0 3-3 7, Kayla Tilus 3 2 1-2 13, Nique Mayo 5 1 2-2 15, Molly McLaughlin 0 1 0-0 3. Record: 19-3.