PORTSMOUTH — Some may look at the halftime score of this season-opening basketball game and wonder if these two historic football powers were playing on the gridiron instead of the court.
However, football season ended long ago for Notre Dame and West, which saw their seasons open in non-league play Friday night in front of a packed crowd on the Titans’ home court.
After being tied with the Titans 14-14 at the halftime break, West outscored Notre Dame 37-27 in the second half, including a 19-2 run which spanned from late in the third quarter through the beginning of the fourth, to earn a 51-41 road win and start 1-0 in the 2019-20 season.
Rather than question what happened offensively to his bunch to start the game, West coach Bill Hafer gave all the credit for the game’s football-esque halftime score to the style of play the Titans and head coach Matt Mader present to opposing teams and coaches.
“I attribute a lot of that to Notre Dame,” Hafer said following the Senators’ win over Notre Dame. “Any team that (Matt) Mader coaches, they’re going to play good, solid half-court defense. We missed some shots that we can make. I was worried about coming into the smaller gym of how we would execute because of us being used to bigger gyms in the SOC II. Second half we got more things going to the rim and were able to score, but give credit to Notre Dame, playing them is always going to be tough.”
At the half, no Senator had more than three points (Nick Davis, Dillyn Coe, and Marion Phillips each with three) while Notre Dame’s leading scorer was Jarren Edgington (So., 6-4), who had a game-high six points at intermission and provided the Titans with a much-needed inside force.
While Hafer was quick to credit the Titans defensively, West should also be applauded for their efforts on the defensive side — when in fact they also held their opponent to just two touchdowns worth of points through the first two periods.
“We were focusing on good close-outs, boxing out,” Hafer said. “Talking on screens. We want to get to that higher level; We’re good now, but I think we can get better. Overall, happy with the way we played on that end tonight.”
Offensively, however, Hafer knew going into the halftime break that some things were going to have to change, or settle in, if they hoped to leave Notre Dame with a one in the win column rather than the loss column.
“We wanted to keep executing and playing the way that we’re going to win and play the way we need to play,” Hafer said of his halftime message to his group. “Part of that is that it’s the first game of the season, we’re sped up faster than we want to be and we’re sped up in our minds. We were down five in the first half and it felt like 25 with how we were scoring. But we knew what we needed to do in the second half and we executed.”
Whatever it was that clicked offensively for West, it did so in a hurry. Aided by sophomore Noah Coleman’s seven-point stretch to start the quarter, West and Notre Dame were tied 23-23 late in the third quarter.
Titans’ sophomore Jermaine Powell, who finished with a game-high 18 points, hit a three to put the Titans ahead of West 26-23 late in the period. Powell’s three also coincidentally happened to be the exact moment the turnaround for West would happen.
West senior Nick Davis ended the third frame on a personal 7-0 run to lift the Senators to a 30-26 lead at quarter’s end.
The Senators’ strong stretch continued to escalate, capping at a 19-2 run, giving West a 42-28 lead by the middle of the fourth.
By game’s end, West was led in scoring by Davis who finished with 12, junior Marion Phillips who added 11 points off the bench, Coleman and senior Brennan Bauer who each finished with nine, senior Dillyn Coe who finished with seven, and junior Luke Howard who finished with three.
Notre Dame was led in scoring by Powell who finished with 18, Edgington who finished with 11, junior Caleb Nichols and freshman Dylan Seison who each finished with five, and freshman Carter Campbell and junior Ethan Kammer who each finished with one.
“They know their roles and know what they’re supposed to do,” Hafer said of his core group. “Nick (Davis) started with those first-game of his senior year jitters, second half he played within himself. Marion (Phillips) came in and guarded a post player, something we haven’t asked him to do to this point; He was able to help Nick out when he was out with foul trouble which was a huge help. Noah Coleman’s always going to play with poise, always going to do what we ask him to do. He’s wise beyond his years, definitely doesn’t play like a sophomore even though this was his first time playing varsity basketball.”
West will host Huntington in non-league play on Tuesday in its home opener before traveling to Waverly on Friday to begin SOC II play.
Notre Dame will travel to Western to begin its SOC I portion of its schedule on Friday.
“We’ve got to come out with our minds 100-percent focused, 100-percent clear,” Hafer said of the Senators’ week ahead. “We’ve just got to play basketball. Nothing else matters, we just have to execute and play within ourselves.”
West – 6 8 16 21 – 51
Notre Dame – 5 9 10 15 – 41
West: Davis 12, Phillips 11, Coleman 9, Bauer 9, Coe 7, Howard 3
Notre Dame: Powell 18, Edgington 11, Seison 5, Nichols 5, Campbell 1, Kammer 1
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved