PORTSMOUTH — The host Titans definitely needed this one for themselves.
After a rough February stretch so far with some close — even gut-wrenching — losses, Notre Dame did what it needed to do on Wednesday night to gain a Southern Ohio Conference Division I win.
That’s because the Titans scored almost half of their points — 27 to be exact — in the fourth quarter against visiting Ironton St. Joseph, and defeated the Flyers 56-44 in an SOC I makeup matchup.
The Flyers led at the first three stops — 14-13 after one, 22-20 at halftime and 32-30 following three frames.
But the key was keeping it close, as although Notre Dame did just score seven and nine points in the middle two cantos, St. Joseph just had eight and 10.
The Titans took off in the fourth quarter, and blitzed the Flyers for a 27-point period —which included four three-point goals, two apiece by Johnathan Strickland and Caleb Nichols.
The Flyers, for the fourth, had just a dozen total points.
With the win, Notre Dame —which had dropped three of its last four games by a combined 11 points including two in overtime with a 55-54 buzzer-beating win at Clay sandwiched in between —raised its record to 11-8, and to 7-5 in the SOC I.
Four of those five league defeats have occurred by a combined nine points, including a combined seven with Western —which swept the Titans this season.
The others are a 64-63 loss at Green and that heartbreaking 61-60 buzzer-beating overtime home loss against New Boston.
Speaking of New Boston, after clinching a share of the SOC I championship with that dramatic and memorable win over the Titans, are now the outright division champions for a second consecutive season.
That’s thanks to the Titans — with Wednesday night’s win over St. Joe.
The Flyers fell to 9-5 and 6-4 in the league, as St. Joseph has four SOC I games left — while New Boston, at 11-0 in the division, has just three.
Strickland scored a game-high 15 points for the Titans against St. Joe —including eight in the fourth quarter.
Along with his two treys and 2-of-2 fourth-quarter free throws, he tossed in a second-stanza trifecta and two 2-of-2 foul shots —preceded by a first-quarter deuce.
Nichols netted 11 along with Carter Campbell, as Nichols notched a first-quarter three and a third-frame two along with his pair of fourth-quarter three-balls.
Campbell, who scored seven in the decisive fourth quarter, collected his 11 on his three field goals and 5-of-10 free throws.
Jermaine Powell posted six points on two baskets and 2-of-3 freebies, followed by Dylan Seison with a three-quarter three and a split of foul shots.
Dominic Sparks with a first-quarter bucket, and Gary Zheng with two fourth-quarter free throws, rounded out the Notre Dame scoring.
The Titans attempted 21 free throws and meshed two-thirds (14) of them, while St. Joe —all by J.C. Damron — was just 3-of-5.
The Flyers did have an 18-17 advantage in total field goals, but the Titans tallied eight threes to St. Joe’s five.
Damron poured in a game-high 24 points, including 10 total field goals which included an opening-quarter three.
Notre Dame, which was scheduled to host East in the SOC I on Thursday night, had that contest postponed to Monday (Feb. 22).
The Titans will now face the Flyers for the second time within a week, in another makeup matchup on Tuesday night (Feb. 23)—and this one taking place in Ironton.
Notre Dame 57, Paint Valley 30 (Girls)
PORTSMOUTH —The Lady Titans felt they needed, or at least wanted, a tuneup prior to Saturday’s sectional championship tilt.
In amid the snow and ice of Southeastern Ohio’s terrain on Wednesday night, the host Lady Titans found one —the visiting Paint Valley Bearcats.
And, Notre Dame did indeed tune up to the tune of its 20th win in 21 tries this season — turning back the Lady Bearcats by a 57-30 count in a non-league bout.
Paint Valley did lead 11-10 after the opening quarter, although Ava Hassel —the Lady Titans’ senior standout and the school’s career scoring leader — did not play in the period.
When she did play in the final three cantos, the Bearcats managed just four, seven and eight points apiece.
Notre Dame took a 19-15 halftime advantage, then erupted for 21 third-period points to lead 40-22 following three.
Of Notre Dame’s five three-point goals, it splashed three in the third —two by Kamryn Bradford as part of her three total and another by Hassel.
Hassel had 15 points to pace the winners, including seven in the pull-away third frame — as she added three twos and a perfect 6-of-6 free throws.
Bradford bucketed a second-quarter field goal towards 11 points, as Claire Detwiller added eight on three field goals and 2-of-2 foul shots.
Annie Detwiller followed her older sister and scored seven points —on three baskets and a split of second-frame freebies.
Katie Strickland scored six points on three field goals, as Annabelle Ball bagged a first-quarter deuce and a fourth-quarter trey.
Isabel Cassidy with three points, and Gracie Ashley on a fourth-quarter basket, rounded out the Notre Dame scoring.
The top-seeded Lady Titans now return home, and will welcome Whiteoak on Saturday afternoon for the Division IV sectional championship game.
Whiteoak, the 16th-seeded squad in the Division IV Southeast District tournament, won its sectional semifinal with an official “no contest” result over East.
Tipoff time on Saturday is set for 1 p.m.
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