The Dominion Post  

Notre Dame rallies past Trinity in section final

Created on:   Fri, Mar 2, 2018   11:53 PM

Last modified:   Fri, Mar 2, 2018   11:53 PM


CLARKSBURG — Notre Dame coach Jarrod West could hardly believe what he was about to say moments after his team finished off an improbable rally March 2 for a 61-58 victory over Trinity in the Class A Region 2, Section 1 boys’ basketball title game.

“To be honest — and I hate to even say this, but — they deserved to win the game tonight,” West said.

When your team trails for more than 24 of the game’s 32 minutes, it’s easy to understand how West could feel that way.

But the top-seeded Irish closed the contest on a 12-0 run, with the final 10 points scored by Gabe Zummo, to rally from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit and pull out a victory at Angelo Basile Court.

“They controlled the game for about 28 minutes,” West said. “But to our credit, our kids showed a lot of resolve and Gabe carried us down the stretch.”

The win allows No. 4 Notre Dame (17-6) to stay home Wednesday for a Region 2 co-final against the loser of today’s contest between Paw Paw and Tucker County, while the Warriors will travel to face the winner of that game.

Joel Robertson’s 3-pointer in the fourth quarter allowed Trinity (17-7) to hold a 58-49 lead and the Warriors appeared to be well on their way to a sectional championship while avenging a pair of regular-season losses to the Irish.

But that proved to be second-seeded Trinity’s final points of the night, and when Todd Griffith answered with a lay-up, the Irish were down by seven with 5:32 remaining.

Neither team could muster any offense for the next couple minutes, but N.D. got to to four with 3:05 remaining, on a Zummo 3.

The sixth-ranked Warriors then executed perfectly and had just the shot they wanted, but missed a lay-up with a chance to go up six, and instead saw their four-point lead cut in half on two Zummo free throws, with 2:16 to play.

On the ensuing inbound pass, N.D.’s Andrew Rogers came up with a steal and fed Zummo, who sank a 3 to give N.D. a 59-58 lead, with 2:07 remaining.

“We were down eight with like three minutes left and coach West just kept emphasizing to grind it out. In March, you have to survive and advance, so just grind it out defensively, because we knew we were going to win it on the defensive end,” Rogers said. “Luckily, I was able to get that steal and get it to Gabe and he knocked it down. We were able to hold on at the end, so it’s a nice win.”

Trinity still had a chance and Daniel Woods, who was 7-for-7 from the field to that point, got a good look in the paint that came off. He came up with the rebound but missed again from close range.

Zummo made two free throws with 34 seconds left to push the lead to three. After Robertson missed a 3 in an attempt to tie the game, Zummo missed a 1-and-1, giving the Warriors one last chance to tie it, but Caleb Jenkins’ 3 was off the mark.

“We played confident for 3 1/2 quarters, and they went on that run and jump there at the end, and we know how to attack that, but the kids just kind of froze,” Trinity coach John Fowkes said. “They’ve been here and they’re the defending state champs and they’ve been in Charleston. We haven’t been there yet, and we’re still looking for that defining win.

“Me and Jarrod talk about that all the time and he compares us to them when they first started being a pretty good basketball team.”

The Irish started the game in strong fashion, getting five points apiece from Zummo and Rogers for a 10-5 lead. But the Warriors closed the opening quarter on a 10-2 run that featured six points from Robertson for a 15-12 lead.

Rogers made a 3 in the second quarter that cut Trinity’s lead to 20-17, but baskets by Logo Zervos, Jenkins and Woods in consecutive fashion allowed the Warriors to lead by nine.

Zummo made a 3 at the two-minute mark of the opening half to trim the Irish deficit to 29-22, but Joseph Zini scored four points in the closing stages of the half, including two free throws with two seconds left, to give Trinity a 35-24 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, the Irish found post player Joel Maurer early and often. Maurer made the most of his opportunities with seven points in the first 1:58 of the quarter and 11 points in the frame, allowing N.D. to cut its deficit to 50-44 after three quarters.

“Joel Maurer was a man in the third quarter when we didn’t have anything going,” West said. “He kind of kept us afloat.”

Zummo led all players with 25 points, while Maurer added 13 points to go with six rebounds. Todd Griffith had nine points and nine boards in the win, while Rogers finished with eight points and six assists.

Robertson’s 17 points led Trinity, while Woods (15) and Zini (11) also scored in double figures.

“We made just enough plays to win,” West said. “Four or five years ago, this program wouldn’t have done that.”