When it’s all said and done, all a coach can ask out of his or her unit is to show the fight and determination necessary to compete in any game that it participates in.
On Tuesday evening, the Notre Dame Titans’ boys basketball program overcame 11 three-point field goals from Manchester en route to grabbing a late fourth-quarter lead. However, seven three pointers from Tanner Utterback and four additional treys from Jamie Combs proved to be too much to hold back as the Manchester Greyhounds’ basketball program ultimately claimed a 53-47 victory over Notre Dame in a Division IV Sectional Semifinal contest that was held at Northwest High School in McDermott.
For second-year head coach Garrick Anderson, the contest just simply proved to be a even-keeled match with both units trading hot spells throughout the affair.
“It was really a game of runs,” Anderson said. “We’d go up two, and they’d come back and hit a three to pull ahead. We got down late, but we battled back and took the lead by one, then Manchester came back and hit a big three. We just couldn’t quite get over that hump after we lost that lead for the final time.”
After both teams traded the point back and forth en route to the contest being fought to a slim one-point margin in favor of Manchester after a quarter of play (9-8), the Greyhounds extended their advantage as Manchester used five second-quarter splashes from beyond the arc — including four from Utterback, alone — to move the scoring margin in a positive direction.
However, despite the Greyhounds’ red-hot shooting from deep, Notre Dame stayed right in the thick of the battle over the entire distance. In all, five different Titans, including Tyler Speas, Ben Mader, Miles Shipp, Jackson Clark, and Caleb Nichols, all scored in the quarter — with Nichols canning a three-pointer and the additional quartet all adding in at least one field goal from inside the arc as Notre Dame trailed by a slight 28-22 margin at the halftime break.
“Everybody bought into their roles,” Anderson said of the team’s unselfishness and grit. “They played hard, and that’s all that I can ask for.”
During the first half of action, Mader and Speas — two of the team’s leaders by words and example — stepped up to provide lifts for Notre Dame. In fact, both players combined for 14 of the Titans’ 22 tallies in the first half of action as Mader scored eight points in the opening half while Speas added six for Notre Dame.
“Ben and Tyler played well,” Anderson said. “Everybody that played last night contributed in a high manner. I got to give it to them — they never gave up.”
In the third quarter of action, Mader, along with Shipp — one of five freshmen on the Notre Dame varsity roster that holds a bright future — combined to score all 11 points in the frame as Notre Dame kept within striking distance and threatened to take the point on several occasions. However, Utterback continued his hot shooting by nailing two treys in the quarter, and Combs added in his third three-pointer of the contest to ultimately extend Manchester’s lead to a 41-33 margin at the end of the third quarter of play.
Notre Dame’s veteran leadership, however, made things interesting in the fourth quarter. Behind a pair of threes from Speas and Mader, the pair obtained six and five points, respectively, in the final quarter of action as the Titans rallied to take a one-point lead.
But just when it seemed like Notre Dame had claimed the momentum necessary to fight off Manchester as the game headed down to the wire, Utterback and Combs, once again, had the answer. Both players connected on one three apiece, while Shaun Gould added a basket to help lift the Greyhounds to the 53-47 win.
In the final game of the year for the Titans (3-20), Mader ultimately lead the Titans with 19 points, while Speas collected 12 points in his final contest in a Notre Dame basketball uniform. Shipp added eight points while Clark and Nichols obtained five and three tallies, respectively, to round out the evening.
Speas’ contributions as a senior, however, went far beyond the box score or the overall records. The fight that Notre Dame showed in its last eight games was evident, as Speas’ inspiring play from the low post allowed the Titans to fight their opponents to single-digit margins in seven of their last nine affairs.
“(Tyler) Speas really came along in the second half of the season,” Anderson said. “He was really big for us from an improvement standpoint, but again, that goes back to his leadership and work ethic. From the beginning of the season, he got the younger kids in the right spots and was a coach on the floor for us.”
And with nine of the 10 varsity hands coming back to the 2018-19 version of the Titans, it is clear that Notre Dame has a promising future ahead of it.
“After we got that first win, we just got some confidence, and practices were a lot different,” Anderson said. “All of that showed in our individual games as well as in the way that we played as a team.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT