ROSEMOUNT - Notre Dame coach Rick Hopkins has been around a long time, but in all those years, even he doesn't think one of his teams was held to just one point in a quarter.
At the end of the first quarter Friday night at Clay, the Titans trailed the Panthers 8-1 and it didn't get much better in a 41-32 loss.
The Panthers hardly looked like an offensive powerhouse, but they were able to establish a post presence early as 6-foot-5 Evan Keaton scored all eight points for Clay in the first. Keaton was also the only consistent scorer for either team, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds.
“He's our guy,” Clay coach Jack Trainer said in reference to Keaton. “I thought he played well. I thought he was solid. I thought he was unselfish. I know it was 20 points out of 41, half our production, but I think he gets it within the structure of things.”
Notre Dame as a team outscored Keaton by just 12 points, shooting 25 percent from the field. The Titans' only score in the first quarter was a free throw by Aaron Noel.
“Offensively, you have to score points to win,” Hopkins said. “We missed a lot of foul shots, we missed a lot of easy shots. We have to find a way to score points.”
The Titans were led in scoring by Kevin Delabar with eight points followed by Noel's seven. Noel also led Notre Dame with five rebounds. Taylor Fitch scored six points with four rebounds.
While the offense struggled, Hopkins thought the Titans “I thought defensively we played well enough to win,” Hopkins said. “We played a lot of man-to-man tonight, we had been playing zone. I thought we could play man against Clay and I thought we did a pretty good job.”
The win was the first for Clay in the still-young season, improving its record to 1-2. Keaton was happy with his performance, but was happier to get the win.
“It's a relief,” Keaton said about the win. “That's our confidence booster. I played pretty good but it's a team effort and I'm glad we all finally came together and got our first win.”
Notre Dame, though, is still looking for its first win as the loss drops the Titans to 0-5 and 0-2 in the SOC I.
After Keaton, Clay's scoring dropped off. Zach Parker was second in scoring with eight points and Jacob Crapyou and T.J. Mershon each scored four while Zach Parker hit the game's only 3 for his only points.
Notre Dame did make a semblance of a run in the fourth quarter. Clay had increased its lead to 33-18 when the Titans pressure defense allowed Notre Dame to outscore the Panthers 6-1 over the next minute and a half to pull within 10. Notre Dame would get to within nine, but no closer.
“We need to play all 32 minutes like we played the last eight minutes,” Hopkins said. “On offense we passed better, we cut better, we drove the ball to basket and attacked it and got to the line a little bit ... We need to play a whole game offensively like we played the fourth quarter.”
While the Panthers did get the win, they also lost senior forward Shane Keen to an ankle injury. Keen's status for tonight's game at home against Manchester was unknown at press time.
In the early game, Clay's JV team defeated Notre Dame 47-28, outscoring their varsity counterparts by six points.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at email@example.com
Notre Dame 1 6 9 16 - 32
Clay 8 9 12 12 - 41
Notre Dame - Noel 1 5 7, Davis 2 0 4, Delabar 3 2 8, Glockner 1 1 3, Slack 1 1 3, Emnett 0 1 1, Fitch 2 2 6. Totals 10 12 32.
Clay - Keaton 7 6 20, Mershon 2 0 4, Clevenger 1 0 3, Parker 2 4 8, Keen 1 0 2, Crapyou 2 0 4. Totals 15 10 41.
3-pointers - Notre Dame none; Clay 1 (Clevenger)
Record - Notre Dame 0-5 (0-2); Clay 1-3 (1-1)