PORTSMOUTH — It’s hard to imagine a better start to a game than what the Notre Dame Titans had in Tuesday’s meeting with Green.
Although it may have resembled a football score more than basketball, it was indeed the Titans who jumped out to a 16-0 lead through the first quarter of their 40-36 win over the visiting Bobcats on the hardwood.
Sophomore Landon Barbarits scored a 11 of his game-high 17 points during the first eight minutes, helping pace ND’s superb opening frame.
Junior Cody Metzler converted an and-one opportunity in the first to give him three of ND’s 16 points, and senior Dominic Sparks made one of his two field goals.
While their 16 point quarter was the best for either team, it was the Titans effort and rebounding on the defense end which helped keep Green off the scoreboard until the 6:40 mark of the second quarter.
“The key going into the game was trying to match their physicality,” Notre Dame coach Matt Mader said, after the game. “Boxing out on the glass and trying to keep Sampson off the offensive glass. For the most part we were able to do that tonight. Got off to a great start — the first quarter was one of the best quarters of the season for us. We definitely needed it with how the rest of the game went. The kids knew what was at stake and responded in a big way.”
By halftime, Green cut Notre Dame’s lead to seven points at 18-11, and even trailed by one point (37-36) with 1:16 left in the fourth after senior Levi Waddell went one-of-two at the free throw line.
But the large, early game deficit was too much to overcome as a pair of free throws by Metzler with 1.2 seconds remaining gave the Titans their final points in their 40-36 victory.
A made free throw by sophomore Aaryn Bradford, who finished four-of-six at the line in the fourth, gave the Titans a two-point lead with 48 seconds to go.
“Glaringly it’s the first quarter. 16-0 is hard to overcome,” Green coach J.D. King said, after the game. “They’re just too good of a team to spot that many points to. If you do the math after that, we played really well. Just tough to get over the hump with having to use so much energy, weren’t able to do it tonight.”
Green was led by senior Levi Sampson, junior Abe McBee, and freshman Jon Knapp who each finished with 10 points.
The Bobcats went on a 10-2 run in the final period, a stretch that featured a series of McBee tough layups, a pair of free throws by Knapp, and three points from senior Levi Waddell.
“Jon’s been an offensive spark plug for us all year. He has a lot of potential, trying to get him to realize we need him to play inside and out,” King said. “He hit a couple of big shots for us in the second quarter. Abe’s the ultimate gamer. His fourth quarter is kind of what I expect out of him. When the line’s drawn in the sand, he’s ready to fight. He’s a big reason we were in the game and had a chance to win.”
Notre Dame’s sophomores were instrumental in keeping the Bobcats just out of range.
In the early second half after Green cut their lead to five, a 5-0 run thanks to a bucket by Myles Phillips and a Barbarits three, the Titans once again led by double-digits. Phillips scored each of his six points in the second half.
“Landon Barbarits, his first year of varsity basketball as a sophomore he keeps getting better, along with Myles Phillips and Aaryn Bradford. We knew at the start of the year it might take them a little while to get them up to speed,” said Mader. “But I think all of them have dealt with it great, and every night they continue getting more comfortable.”
Tuesday’s result marks the first time this season a Southern Ohio Conference Division I team earned a victory over the Bobcats, who officially clinched a share of their first SOC I title since the 2010-11 with Friday’s win at Ironton St. Joe.
They’ll have one more opportunity to go for an outright championship when they’ll welcome New Boston to Franklin Furnace on Friday, Feb. 10.
“None of the goals we had for ourselves were lost tonight. We would have liked to gone undefeated in the league, but that wasn’t a prerequisite for any of the goals we set. We learned a lot from this game. Year in and year out with Coach Mader, as the season goes on, they (ND) get a lot better,” said King. “They were right there with Trimble who played Western close in a district final. We’re talking a regional level team. We feel good that we were able to go wire-to-wire with them and we know we still control our own destiny.”
As for the Titans, their four-point victory marks their fifth-straight win and 13th in 18 games this season.
They’ll hit the road on Friday to face Ironton St. Joe and on Saturday versus Oak Hill, before closing out their regular season with SOC I games against Western and East.
“They’re definitely a different type of challenge for us, those kids like to get up and down and shoot it, play fast-paced. Huge challenge for us, but we’re ready for it,” said Mader. “Oak Hill on Saturday. We still have four games left with Western and East behind that. We’re playing well right now and hopefully that continues into the tournament.”
Green 0 11 10 15 — 36
Notre Dame 16 2 14 8 — 40
Green (16-5, 12-1 SOC I): Levi Blevins 0 0-0 0, Levi Sampson 3 3-4 10, Jon Knapp 3 2-2 10, Abe McBee 5 0-1 10, Levi Waddell 1 1-2 3, Gabe McBee 1 1-2 3; TOTALS: 13 7-11 36; Three-point field goals: 3 (Jon Knapp 2, Levi Sampson 1)
Notre Dame (13-5, 9-2 SOC I): Landon Barbarits 7 0-0 17, Aaryn Bradford 0 4-8 4, Cody Metzler 2 3-3 7, Carter Campbell 1 0-0 2, Myles Phillips 3 0-0 6, Dominic Sparks 2 0-3 4; 15 7-14 40; Three-point field goals: 3 (Landon Barbarits 3)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved