Titans take SOC I


Notre Dame senior Cody Metzler (11) looks to pass the ball around two Ironton St. Joseph defenders during Tuesday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game at The Flyer Dome.

Courtesy of Robert S. Stevens | The Gold Studio in Ironton

IRONTON — If you’re going to win an outright league championship, you might as well go all out —and play perhaps your most complete basketball game of the entire season.

On Tuesday night, inside the Flyer Dome on the campus of St. Joseph High School in Ironton, the Notre Dame Titans did just that —scoring the first five points, and leading wire-to-wire with a convincing 67-34 victory over the leg-weary Flyers.

Notre Dame didn’t trail, outscored the Flyers 17-7 in the first quarter and led 33-20 at halftime —then upped the margin to 54-33 following three frames, before stymieing St. Joseph to a Wesley Neal rebound putback and a Zane Dressel free throw in the fourth.

The Titans, with 14 deuces and a whopping 12 treys, took their lead up to as large as 67-33 with 56 seconds remaining —as the 34-point difference meant one point shy of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule taking effect.

Dressel’s free throw came with 20-and-a-half seconds left —as Neal netted his rebound stickback with four minutes and 46 tics to go.

By then, and after the Titans withstood a 9-2 Flyer fury over a third-quarter span of two minutes and 10 seconds to get within 41-26, Notre Dame was well on its way to clinching the outright Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship —as the ND lead never dipped below 14 for the final dozen minutes.

After Landon Barbarits bagged his final of five three-point goals, a corner-pocket buster at the three-minute mark, the outcome certainly wasn’t in doubt —only the final score.

The Titans raised their record to 13-4, and wrapped up the outright SOC I title at a perfect 8-0.

For NDHS veteran head coach Matt Mader and his Titans, the division championship marked the first for Notre Dame since 2012.

In the past half-dozen years, there were eight SOC I schools for boys basketball —Western, Symmes Valley, St. Joseph, New Boston, Clay, East, Green and Notre Dame.

With this present academic year and subsequent season, it marks the first for three SOC basketball divisions —as Western and Symmes Valley moved up a level to the mid-size and now newly-formed SOC II.

Still, a league championship is a league championship —no matter how many teams are involved.

Notre Dame’s ultimate SOC goal is an undefeated 10-game gauntlet —as the Titans traveled to Green on Friday night (Feb. 9), and host archrival East next Friday night (Feb. 16).

But for Mader’s charges, the here and now, Tuesday’s triumph to officially clinch “feels great”.

“We treated this game like a league championship game, and these guys came in here all business and were very focused,” said Mader. “We knew we had to take care of the glass, get on both the defensive and offensive glass, which we hadn’t done the last couple of games. Guys came in really focused and very determined to play well. Our defense really got us going early, and we got a lot of stops and got off to a great start. Then we shot it tremendously.”

Did the Titans ever.

They made seven first-half trifectas followed by a second-half five, as Aaryn Bradford began the scoring with his lone one —and following a Cody Metzler made field goal, Landon Barbarits went back-to-back in a matter of less than a minute to make it 11-2.

The Flyers got no closer than six points twice from there —along with a 19-14 deficit with 5:52 left in the second stanza.

Two Connie Thomas triples, and another by Barbarits and one from Metzler, accounted for the four second-quarter three-balls.

In the third frame, Barbarits buried two more —and Thomas tacked on one apiece in the final two periods.

So too did junior big man Brady Davis, as Barbarits’ five threes and two third-quarter twos paced the Titans and all scorers with 19 points.

Thomas tallied 17, with four threes and two twos — and a split of fourth-quarter foul shots.

Bradford made three from inside the arc towards netting nine points, as Metzler and Davis both scored seven —and Myles Phillips and Marcellus Woods made two baskets apiece.

Mader made mention of the Titans’ team-ball approach.

“This is the team I thought we could be and how we could shoot it. We have a lot of guys that can do that. But just the unselfishness, that’s what makes this group special,” said the coach. “The extra pass, the shot fake, the drop down, the way they trust each other and share the basketball.”

The Titans passed the ball well, rebounded strong, and got the transition game going after multiple defensive stops.

Notre Dame junior Brady Davis (44) and senior Marcellus Woods (12) defend Ironton St. Joseph’s Drew Brown during Tuesday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game at The Flyer Dome.

Courtesy of Robert S. Stevens | The Gold Studio in Ironton

The now 7-11 and 5-3 in the SOC I Flyers were already exhausted —after playing eight games in a two-week time frame, due to making up games for either weather or illness issues.

Notre Dame, conversely, definitely looked like a fresh squad.

“That’s a tribute to these guys and how hard they’ve worked,” said Mader. “They know that together we’re a lot stronger.”

Mader mentioned individual Titans Tuesday night by name, but summed it all up with “this is a great team effort”.

“From start to finish, this is one of our most complete games. They made a little run at us which I knew they (Flyers) would, because they are good basketball team. We took a couple punches from them, but we didn’t panic or waver,” he said. “Called a couple timeouts, but we got refocused and finished the job.”

Now, the job —bookended by a pair of highly-challenging non-league tilts —is to go 10-0 in the SOC I.

But first things first, those non-league encounters are against a pair of good 16-2 teams —hosting Division III Northwest on Saturday night, and then traveling to Division IV South Webster on Tuesday night.

“One game at a time,” said Mader. “But tonight, this was a great night for Notre Dame Titans basketball.”

* * *

Notre Dame 17 16 21 13—67

Ironton St. Joe 7 13 11 3—34

NOTRE DAME 67 (13-4, 8-0 SOC I)

Landon Barbarits 7 0-0 19, Connie Thomas 6 1-2 17, Aaryn Bradford 4 0-2 9, Dae’quan Woods 0 0-0 0, Cody Metzler 3 0-2 7, Marcellus Woods 2 0-0 4, Myles Phillips 2 0-0 4, Ethan Kingrey 0 0-0 0, Brady Davis 2 2-2 7; TOTALS 26 3-8 67; Three-point goals: 12 (Landon Barbarits 5, Connie Thomas 4, Aaryn Bradford, Cody Metzler and Brady Davis 1 apiece)

IRONTON ST. JOSEPH 34 (7-12, 5-3 SOC I)

Aiden DeBorde 2 0-0 5, Eli Whaley 0 0-0 0, Landon Rowe 1 0-0 3, Evan Balestra 2 0-1 4, Drew Brown 4 0-2 9, Jake Stephens 1 0-0 2, Wesley Neal 3 0-1 6, Zane Dressel 0 1-2 1, Carter Johnson 2 0-0 4; TOTALS 15 1-6 34; Three-point goals: 3 (Aiden DeBorde, Landon Rowe and Drew Brown 1 apiece)

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on X @paulboggssports © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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