Through three quarters the teams were tied at 29. No lead had amounted to more than five points until three and a half minutes remained. The Senator defense held Notre Dame to just two field goals in the final quarter to pull away for the W.
"We are an attacking defense. We're not going to sit back and let the offense dictate what's going to happen. We want to dicate what happens out there," West coach Travis Bradford said. "We are looking to put pressure on them and force the offense into mistakes and then we want to be sound fundamentally. We want to challenge shots and block out when shots go up and those are the things we emphasize daily."
West guard Tyler Austin took the reigns for his Senators with six fourth quarter points on his way to 10 total points and eight rebounds, a team-high. The 5-foot-11 senior added two steals for an all-around performance.
"(The win) felt good but I think we could have done a lot better throughout the game," Austin said. "I think I could have done better tonight too."
Teammate Kyle Locher pitched in a pair of 3-pointers and 10 total points while big man Cody Groves connected on several and-one attempts as he collected nine points and four rebounds.
Bradford recognized the playmaking ability of his senior, Austin, while giving credit to the play of his bench.
"Tyler has the ability to do a lot offensively, he has the drive game and he's got the middle game. He is really versatile offensively and we need him in those situations," Bradford said. "I thought our depth helped us out there in the fourth quarter too. I can't say enough about our bench tonight. Even though they didn't produce a whole lot of stats... I thought the minutes they gave us and the solid defensive play that they gave us allowed us to be fresh in that fourth quarter."
The early advantage was taken by the Titans as senior Alex Glockner posted six of the team's twelve first quarter points. Notre Dame had a 10-5 lead before its offense slowed down and West began to force its way into the paint for close-range points.
"We just couldn't get on the run to string points together, and the ball was going half way down the basket and coming back out," Notre Dame coach Matt Mader said. "But we kept competing and kept our composure and I was proud of them."
The Titans were led by Brad Pierron with a double-double. The sophomore racked up a game-high 13 points and 10 rebounds as teammates Glockner and Tyler Noel added nine and seven points, respectively.
Noel, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, made himself known defensively as well with nine rebounds, two steals and a block.
"I think it all starts with our seniors, Alex Glockner and Jeffrey Emnett... I think Brad just fed off of those two," Mader said of his players. "They got him some good looks and Brad played extremely hard. And he is just a sophomore, we are looking for big things out of him."
In the closely contested match, the Titans out-rebounded their opponent 32 to 28, often holding the Senators to just one shot attempt per possession. The advantage for the visitors could not be converted into a win however as the offense went cold down the stretch.
"We played extremely hard, they did everything we asked them to do and played extremely hard defensively," Mader said. "We knew coming in that we were going to have to defend and rebound the ball. From that aspect we did very well."
Bradford agreed that both defenses outplayed the opposing offenses and overall the defenses seemed better prepared for the year's tip-off.
Bradford, who returned to coach his alma mater this season, made a great impression with this season-opening victory.
"(This win) is nice for the kids who stuck the the basketball program after a rough season last year," Bradford said. "I'm glad we got off to a good start."
The Senators travel to Coal Grove on Saturday to take on the Hornets and Notre Dame will face league opponent Symmes Valley on Friday Dec. 11.
ALI KEATON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notre Dame 12 10 7 8 — 37
West 14 10 5 20 — 49
Notre Dame — A. Glockner 3 2 8, Evans 1 0 2, J. July 1 1 3, Perez 2 0 4, Noel 3 1 7, Pierron 5 2 13. Totals 15 6 37.
West — Journey 1 3 5, Austin 3 4 10, Adkins 0 2 2, Locher 3 2 10, Arthur 1 3 5, Bricker 2 0 4, Pendleton 2 0 4, Groves 3 3 9. Totals 15 17 49.
3-pointers — Notre Dame (Pierron) ; West 2 (Locher 2)
Records — Notre Dame 0-1 (0-0), West 1-0 (0-0)