PORTSMOUTH – The Notre Dame Titans and Clay Panthers made a statement Friday night during their game against each other at Notre Dame High School. The two SOC I rivals played one of the best basketball games this area has ever seen, and showed just how tough the competition is in the SOC I.
In what was an absolutely well coached, called, and most importantly, played game, the Notre Dame Titans came out on top, defeating the Clay Panthers, 48-46.
“Clay is super talented,” Notre Dame coach Matt Mader said. “They stretch the floor so well with their four shooters, and really cause you to extend, and get out and guard. We knew we were facing a big challenge, and I thought our guys, defensively, played really hard. They were going to make some runs, and we were going to make some runs, and that happened.”
The game was a dogfight from the opening tip. Each team started full of energy and played with great effort.
The Titans gained an early lead on the Panthers, leading Clay, 10-4, until a three-pointer by Clay’s Cole Gilliland cut the Titans’ lead in half, with only 0:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Notre Dame had an answer for Clay’s score though, as Grant Sparks hit a short jumper from the baseline at the buzzer to give the Titans a 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Panthers came out strong in the opening minutes of the second quarter, going on a 7-0 run, which was eclipsed with a Brody Riffe three-pointer, to give the Panthers a 14-12 lead over the Titans with 5:27 left in the quarter.
Each team continued to battle, leading up to three more lead changes in the quarter. By the end of the first half, Clay was on top of the Titans by a single point, 17-16.
Notre Dame responded well coming out of the half, picking up two quick scores, including a nice jumper from Hattachai Buttayotee, which gave the Titans a 20-17 lead, with 6:36 left in the third quarter.
Another three lead changes occurred in the remaining minutes of the third quarter, which finalized on a Cameron King layup with 0:28 left, to give the Panthers a 32-30 lead at the end of the quarter.
It was a great defensive battle up to that point, between the Titans and Panthers, and the fourth quarter would be no different, despite being the highest combined scoring quarter of the night.
It only took 16 seconds for Notre Dame to tie the game, as Trevon Turner’s layup started what would become a very intense fourth quarter.
Buttayotee had a stong showing in the next several minutes of the fourth, picking up three scores. Fellow Titan teammate Aaron Bazler aided Buttayotee’s scoring spree, hitting a wide open layup, coming off a turnover.
Notre Dame was able to hold Clay to a single free throw for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, earning a 42-33 lead over the Panthers.
Clay would cut the lead to seven points, after a score, but then gave up a layup to Sparks to fall back down to a nine point deficit, 44-35.
The Panthers responded with a three, to cut the lead to six, but gave up another score, this time to Isiah Johnson, to fall behind by eight points, 46-38, with only 1:09 left in the game.
Nate Hinze would bring Clay right back into the game with a huge three-pointer. Right after the trey, King stole the ball after an inbound pass from Notre Dame. He drove back to Clay’s basket and was fouled during hit shot attempt.
As King came down from his jumper, he fell to the floor, and began grabbing his left leg. A trainer came out to help the junior from Clay, who was taken out of the game.
Clay coach Adam Betten had to find a replacement for King, and called upon Taylor Pack. Pack hadn’t been in the game at all up to that point, and came in with a tremendous amount of pressure placed upon him. His team trailed by five points, 46-41, and he had two free throws to take for his injured teammate, King.
Showing a great amount of calm and composure, Pack hits both free throws, to cut the Notre Dame lead to three points, 46-43.
The Panthers got a defensive stop on the Titans, and took full advantage of that stop, as Riffe came up with another big shot, another three-pointer, to tie the game, 46-46, with only 14.6 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Titans would have one possesion to try to get the win. Notre Dame moved the ball down the court, facing an immense amount of defensive pressure from Clay.
The ball would get passed to a semi-open Johnson on the baseline, who drove in before taking a 10 foot jumper that floated into the basket, giving the Titans a 48-46 lead. Johnson was also fouled on the shot, so he would also have a chance to give his team a three point lead.
The intensity of the game escalated from there, as Clay’s book keeper at the scorer’s table was then ejected by an official for arguing the foul.
Johnson would miss his free throw, which would give Clay an opportunity for the win.
The Panthers had 1.8 seconds to take a shot, but was unable to connect, securing the 48-46 victory for the Notre Dame Titans.
“I thought it was a great basketball game,” Betten said. “I thought it was two teams that just came out and left everything out there on the floor. Both teams gave it everything they had.”
Both teams showed the competitive nature of the SOC I.
“We’ve talked about it before, you’ve got to come out and battle each and every night, especially on the road,” Betten said. “I thought it was great for our kids to come back at the end.”
“Both sides, it was electric,” Mader said. “It was a great atmosphere to play high school basketball in, and I don’t know how many times they (refs) had to call timeouts to grab towels to wipe up sweat from kids diving. They were all over the floor. Everyone who paid $5.00 to get into this basketball game definitely got their money’s worth.”
The Titans will hit the road to take on the Symmes Valley Vikings Tuesday evening at Symmes Valley High School. Tipoff is set for 7:15 p.m.
Clay will host the Glenwood Tigers Tuesday evening. Tipoff is scheduled for about 7:30 p.m.
Notre Dame – Turner 6-2-15, Buttayotee 7-0-14, Sparks 4-0-9, Johnson 3-0-6, Bazler 2-0-4
Clay – Riffe 5-0-14, Hinze 5-2-14, King 3-1-7, Gilliland 1-2-5, Pack 0-2-2, Williams 0-2-2, Meade 1-0-2
Three-point field goals – Notre Dame 2 (Turner, Sparks) Clay 7 (Riffe 4, Hinze 2, Gilliland)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.