LUCASVILLE — Wednesday night epitomized what sports is all about. One game, one chance, one opportunity to keep the dream a live and for the loser, nothing but heartbreak.
The Notre Dame Titans defeated the East Tartans 51-50 in a Division IV Sectional Final contest at Valley High School to earn a trip to Athens.
With 4:30 minutes left in the contest, the Titans were down 38-30 and their postseason aspirations looked like they were slipping away. However, a 13-5 run and a Will Toleman putback with one tick left of the clock, saved Notre Dame’s season.
Notre Dame coach Matt Mader was elated the Titans overcame the late deficit but he wasn’t surprised his squad found a way to win.
“These kids are resilient,” Mader said. ” … We’ve been in these situations before, we’ve been down, and the kids never give up. It’s a testament to how hard they work and it’s just a great group of kids.
“You hate for anybody to lose a game like that. Give coach Bailey and his kids a lot of credit. They’re a tough, physical team and they fought us until the end.”
In the overtime session, Notre Dame took advantage of a couple of turnovers by the Tartans and scored the first five points. However, the lead quickly disappeared thanks to a two-point basket by Tyler Gerald, followed by a trey from freshman Derek Lowe.
With the game tied at 48 a piece, Daniel Ogg went to the line for the Titans, converting one out of two attempts. With seven seconds left, freshman Akia Brown drove the lane and hit a floater to put East ahead 51-50.
On the next play, with four seconds left, Will Haney was fouled at half court by Lowe who was playing aggressive man-to-man defense. The infraction sent Haney to the charity stripe with the game on the line. Haney sank both free throws to give Notre Dame the lead.
Brown had one last attempt for East but his full court heave was off the mark.
“I can’t fault there effort,” Bailey said. “The kids played really hard. They fought and battled the entire game. We just didn’t make a couple of plays when we needed too.”
The news wasn’t all bad for East. Brown led all scorers with 23 points.
“He’s a special kid, a special athlete,” Bailey said. “He wants to be good and works hard.”
Brown still has three years of eligibility. In fact, many of the Tartans top performers are underclassman.
“A lot of these guys will be back for the next couple of years, which bolds well for the future,” Bailey said.
East does lose Jordan Brown, Shain Siebert and Rick Bolda to graduation.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or on Twitter @crslone.
East 14 8 12 9 7 — 50
Notre Dame 14 7 9 13 8 — 51
East —Brown 7-9-23, Martin 4-1-9, Gerald 4-0-8, Lowe 2-0-6, Siebert 1-0-2, Basham 1-0-2. Totals 19-10-50.
Notre Dame — Ogg 4-3-12, D. Smith 3-4-12, C. Smith 3-1-9, Toleman 3-2-8, Haney 1-2-5, Kayser 1-3-5. Totals 15-15-51.
3-point field goals — East 2 (Lowe 2); Notre Dame 6 (D. Smith 2, C. Smith 2, Haney, Ogg)