WATERFORD — Apparently, even a long way from home, it was a true and total Titan turnaround.
That’s because the ninth-seeded Notre Dame Titans, traveling to and trailing the eighth-seeded Waterford Wildcats by 10 points at halftime, turned the second-half tide two-and-a-half hours away from Portsmouth.
Notre Dame dominated the second half after falling behind 36-26, outscoring the Wildcats 35-20 in the final 16 minutes —and rallying for a dramatic 61-56 victory in a Division IV boys basketball sectional championship tilt on Friday night.
That’s correct, as Notre Dame reversed second-half course —and especially outdid the Wildcats with a fourth-quarter comeback, winning the decisive salvo 21-9 for the five-point triumph in Washington County.
Waterford led at all three quarter stops —19-12 after the initial, 36-26 at halftime, and finally 47-40 following the third frame.
But ND sophomore Cody Metzler muscled for 10 fourth-period points —including an old-fashioned three-point play, plus his only three-pointer of the night.
Dominic Sparks scored as well, while the Titans enjoyed a parade to the free-throw stripe —with senior Johnathan Strickland sinking a perfect 6-of-6.
Jermaine Powell posted 2-of-2 in the fourth following a split in the third, as Carson Sammons split a fourth-quarter pair —and Sparks meshed 2-of-2 in the third.
In all, the Titans took 20 free-throw attempts and converted 13 —but veteran NDHS coach Matt Mader mentioned that it was a combination of better basketball on both ends of the Titans’ floor.
With the win, which was the Titans’ 11th consecutive, Notre Dame raised its record to 16-6 —and more importantly captured its first sectional championship since 2014.
Waterford (15-7) was the higher seed, but it didn’t matter to Notre Dame —despite the two-and-a-half hour bus ride from Sunrise Avenue up U.S. Route 23 to State Routes 32 and 339.
“We were down 10 (36-26) at halftime because they shot it really well and we turned it over 12 times. I told our guys that as bad as we played, and for as well as they shot it, we were only down 10. The second half, we were able to get defensive stops , I thought we did an outstanding job on the glass all night, we only turned it over two times after halftime, and we made a huge run at them in the last five minutes,” said Mader. “We hit some big free throws late to seal it.”
Meanwhile, some big buckets kept the Titans within striking distance through the first three cantos.
Strickland scored 25 and Metzler mustered for 22 —as Strickland drilled five of the Titans’ six threes, and all through the first three periods.
He also made 2-of-3 first-quarter free throws.
Metzler managed nine deuces, as Sparks scored 10 points which featured four field goals.
Sparks also grabbed eight rebounds, while Powell dished out six assists.
Waterford’s Armstrong tied Metzler with 22 points —splashing six of the Wildcats’ eight treys, including four before halftime.
But, his two second-half trifectas were Waterford’s only three-point makes after half.
Both teams tallied 20 total field goals, while Notre Dame made (13) more free throws than the Wildcats (12) even attempted.
The Titans return to the road on Saturday —but now just have an hour and 15-minute drive to Wellston High School.
Notre Dame will face 20-1 and top-seeded Trimble —in a Division IV district semifinal at 1 p.m.
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