PDT Sports Writer
ATHENS — Notre Dame coach Matt Mader told his team the theme of Monday night’s Division IV Southeast District Semifinal at Ohio University’s Convocation Center was rebounding.
The No. 1 Titans took that to task as they came back in the final minutes to defeat No. 5 Reedsville Eastern 43-42. Notre Dame will look to grab its first district title since 1973 in Saturday night’s final against No. 3 East due in large part to a 38-28 edge against the Eagles on the glass.
“Their front line with how athletic and how well they jumped, we knew that we had to get on the glass,” Mader said.
The rebounding made up for a sub par shooting performance from beyond the arc for the Titans. J.P. Kayser connected from deep to open up the scoring on the night for either team. Notre Dame would miss its next 13 from the arc before Adam Cooper made the team’s final 3-pointer of the night with 26.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well from outside and we were able to persevere and work through it,” Mader said.
The Titans took a 12-10 lead into the second thanks to 10 Eastern turnovers. The lead grew to 20-16 at intermission as Daniel Ogg grabbed four of his eight total rebounds in the frame, which led to six second-chance points in the quarter.
“The light bulb has went off in Daniel (his head) these last two games,” Mader said. “He’s really played like a man inside, using his body well and really feeling for position. Give our guards some credit, we’re doing a better job of getting the ball inside to him and making good post feeds.”
The Eagles had their fortunes turn in the third as they used a 12-0 run to spearhead a 32-26 lead going into the fourth, their first since being up 8-6 in the first. Kirk Pullins started the fourth with a shot in the paint for a 34-26 lead, the largest Eastern would have the entire evening.
That’s when Notre Dame, trying to erase the pain of last year’s 47-44 semifinal loss last year to South Gallia, started to heat up. A three-point-play by Ogg sparked a 7-2 run to get it to a 36-33 game. Both teams would split the next eight points before Cooper finished off a three-point-play of his own to get the deficit down to two at 40-38.
Pullins connected on a pair of free throws to grow the lead to four before Cooper broke the Titans dry spell from deep. The shot was a shot in the arm according to Mader.
“Adam’s that type of player where he knows his role and knows what to do when he comes in,” Mader said. “He’s got a beautiful shot and one of the better shooters on the team plus he can go inside and finish.”
From the inbounds out of a Notre Dame timeout, senior Kevin Lewis stole the pass and was sent to the line. His free throws with 22.3 seconds left not only gave the Titans the lead for good but sent the Eagles’ Max Carnahan to the bench with his fifth foul.
“He’s a heck of a player, that Carnahan,” Mader said. “We knew that we were going to have our hands full with him. Just his vision, how he sees the floor and he makes everybody around him better.
“…With him to go out there late, I’m sure that was a huge blow to Eastern and what they want to do.”
Ogg led the Titans with 14 points and Cooper added 10. Three Eastern players were in double figures as Pullins led all scorers with 17, Carnahan had 14 and Chase Cook added 11.
Now Notre Dame’s focus will turn to a Tartans squad they swept during the regular season. Tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at The Convo.
“It’s special, this is a special group of kids and they’ve built our program,” Mader said.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reedsville Eastern 10 6 16 10 — 42
Notre Dame 12 8 6 17 — 43
Eastern — Carnahan 6-0-24, Cook 5-0-11, Pullins 7-3-17, Totals 18-3-42.
Notre Dame — Lewis 3-2-8, JP Kayser 4-0-9, Cooper 4-1-10, Mader 1-0-2, Ogg 6-2-14, Totals 18-5-43.
3-Point Goals — Eastern 3 (Carnahan 2, Cook); Notre Dame 2 (JP Kayser, Cooper).
Records — Eastern 9-15; Notre Dame 20-3.