McDERMOTT- The third-seeded Notre Dame Titans lost Wednesday night to the six-seeded Western Indians 54-44, in a Division IV Sectional Finals match at Northwest High School. The Titans went into the half with a five point lead but faced a stifling defense the last two quarters along with Tanner Purdue who amassed 18 of his 23 points in crunch time.
The Titans towered over the Indians early, using their interior size to out rebound and out position the Western players. However, Notre Dame found themselves in foul trouble early as they were repeatedly called for offensive fouls coming from post moves and drives. Trevon Turner was forced to set out early with foul trouble, and didn’t score until the third quarter.
Despite the foul trouble, Notre Dame took a 25-20 lead going into the half. It looked as though the Titans were on their way to another grinding win when Western switched it up coming out of the break. They instituted a 2-3 zone and seemingly targeted the Notre Dame players in order to get them deep in foul trouble. It worked, as before the end of regulation Turner, Isiah Johnson, and Hattachai Buttayotee all fouled out for the Titans. Notre Dame was held to just six points in the third quarter and never seemed to rebound from the loss of momentum.
Tanner Purdue led all scorers with 23 as he iced the game for the Indians, connecting on all eight of his late free throws. Buttayotee led the Titans in scoring with 19, almost igniting a comeback run before fouling out himself. Notre Dame Head Coach Matt Mader spoke on their off night, as well as a Western squad whom is very well coached.
“We did get in foul trouble early,” admitted Coach Mader. “We managed to go into halftime with a five point lead, though. We were trying to protect Trevon, with his fouls, and I thought we did a good job of that in the first half. In the third quarter they managed to take control a bit. They got some buckets inside and we got in foul trouble. It’s basketball. They did a nice job at exploiting our guys in foul trouble and we seemingly couldn’t hit shots. We struggled at the free throw line and we talked about how important that would be at halftime. We made a run at them in the fourth but we couldn’t finish it. Give them a lot of credit, they are a good basketball team and they are playing really well right now.”
Notre Dame returns all of their starters and lose only one senior in Chase Rodriguez. Their focus falls to next season and another competitive year shaping up for the SOC.
“Tonight teaches them a lot I think. Some of these guys had tournament experience and some didn’t, but they get to see what a loss feels like. On the big stage it’s one loss and you are done, you go home. We had a great season at 17-6, we finished second in the conference but there’s always that empty feeling if you come up short. We didn’t take care of business tonight, but give Western a ton of credit. They played a great game.”
Western heads to the Convo to face off against the second-seeded South Gallia Rebels. That game will be played Tuesday, March 1st at 8:00 p.m. in Athens, Ohio. Indians Head Coach Kyle Miller is thrilled for his team’s victory, and is excited at the opportunity to play at the Convo.
“It’s huge for us!” said Miller. “It’s one of those goals every school in the Southeast District has, to start the year. The goal now is to continue winning. It’s going to be fun for our kids to experience it and compete in that type of atmosphere. It’s huge for us and these kids deserve it.
“I coach Tanner Purdue like a senior. Sometimes I have to take a step back from ripping him and remind myself this kid is only a sophomore. For him to not only knock down those free throws at the end but also demand the basketball says something about him. It’s understood by all the guys on the floor that he needs the ball in those situations. Credit to Notre Dame tonight. They are very good at grinding out wins, so as a coach it makes you a bit nervous when you look at the score and it’s in the forty-something margin. But these kids played a fantastic defensive game. They got after it and made every shot tough for them. I’m proud of them.”
Box Score 1 2 3 4 F
Notre Dame 12 13 6 13 44
Western 10 10 14 20 54
Notre Dame: Buttayotee 19, Bazzler 9, Turner 6, Johnson 5, Kayser 3, Sparks 2
Western: Purdue 23, B. Brewster 10, Herman 9, Stevens 6, L. Brewster 4, Dunn 2
Reach Derrick Parker at email@example.com or on twitter @DC__Parker