Hard work pays off for Notre Dame

Fight­ing Ir­ish top Red­coats in Tri­bune Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship fi­nal

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Sports - BERND FRANKE Re­gional Sports Ed­i­tor

A Tri­bune Boys Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship is a solid cor­ner­stone for a high school pro­gram un­der­go­ing a re­build.

In ad­di­tion to look­ing good on the re­sume, and in the tro­phy case, the high-pro­file ac­com­plish­ment is pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment that hard work in prac­tice can re­turn big div­i­dends on the hard­wood in games.

That was the case Satur­day night at Dil­lon Hall in Wel­land, where the host Notre Dame Fight­ing Ir­ish de­feated the Gover­nor Sim­coe Red­coats 70-55 for the cham­pi­onship.

“I’m so happy for the kids,” head coach Mark Gal­lagher said. “One of the things that hap­pen is you try to get kids to work hard, and if you don’t win, it doesn’t seem like they’re mak­ing steps for­ward.

“That’s why I’m happy with this whole process.”

Notre Dame, which lost last year’s fi­nal to the Wel­land Cen­ten­nial Cougars with a vet­eran team, put a much dif­fer­ent team on the court at the Tri­bune Tour­na­ment this year.

“This is a unique group of kids,” Gal­lagher said. “Last year’s group was an older group that we’ve worked with a cou­ple of years.

“This is sort of a brand new group, and a lot of the key play­ers are ei­ther very young or in­ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Gal­lagher said the fu­ture looks bright for se­nior boys hoops at Notre Dame.

“Last year, we were try­ing to win as an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of ev­ery­thing that we had done to­gether,” he said. “This year it’s more of a start­ing off point.

“The fact that we could win with this group is some­thing we can hope­fully build on from here.”

The night­cap of a cham­pi­onship dou­ble­header was much closer than the fi­nal score. Sim­coe was up 48-47 mid­way into the

last quar­ter be­fore Notre Dame nailed some three-point­ers to stretch out the score.

“I thought we played well to­day, I thought in par­tic­u­lar in the sec­ond half I thought we were re­ally good de­fen­sively,”

Gal­lagher said. “They made some shots — they’re a good team, they’re go­ing to make shots — but we forced them to shoot dif­fi­cult shots.”

For a coach bat­tling the flu all week, a win in reg­u­la­tion one night after a nail-biter in over­time was just what the doc­tor would have or­dered.

“I think I would feel a lot more sick of we lost that one than I do right now, that’s for sure,” Gal­lagher said with a chuckle. “I’m not sure any of us could have sur­vived over­time again like last night.”

In Satur­day’s fi­nal against Notre Dame, Sim­coe was un­able to match the in­ten­sity it had the night be­fore when it de­throned reign­ing cham­pion Cen­ten­nial.

“I think we just ran out of gas, we were go­ing with a bit of a shorter bench,” Red­coats head coach Shaun Feor said. “I don’t think we ex­actly played our game to­day, to be hon­est with you.”

He said the play was stag­nant in an open­ing half that the Ir­ish took by a 27-24 mar­gin.

“There was a lot of back-and­forth, no one re­ally at­tack­ing the rim,” he said. “But I have to give credit to Notre Dame, they played a great de­fence.”

Notre Dame’s David Jones, the tour­na­ment most valu­able player and a first-team all-star, at­trib­uted the win to strong play on de­fence and a high level of in­ten­sity on both sides of the ball.

“The whole team’s en­ergy was just great, and we were able to push through in the fourth (quar­ter) in a close game.”

Jones, who was briefly side­lined with cramps in his legs in an over­time thriller against E.L. Cross­ley in the semi­fi­nal round Fri­day, didn’t feel 100 per cent when he took the court for the fi­nal.

“My legs were re­ally sore, my legs weren’t do­ing their best, but for the fi­nals, the adrenalin was just pump­ing,” he said. “I felt good all game.”

Gal­lagher praised the play of the Grade 11 guard.

“He’s so tough, he plays so so hard,” the coach said. “He was in foul trou­ble in the fi­nal last year, and he only played half the game.

“He’s been look­ing for­ward to this.”

Far from putting added pres­sure on the shoul­ders of the Notre Dame play­ers, sup­port from the crowd gave the team an added in­cen­tive.

“That made us feel good, that’s what we wanted.”

Sham­mar Camp­bell, 22; An­drew Zezella, 16; Jones, 13; Bran­don Markowski, nine; An­thony Cimino, seven; and Jesse Raso, three; scored for Notre Dame.

Dar­ren John­ston, 19; Max Grant, 16; Deryck Burke, nine; An­drew Scott, six; Cal An­der­sen, three, and Ma­son MacEach­ern, two; put up points for Sim­coe.

“One of the things that hap­pen is you try to get kids to work hard, and if you don’t win, it doesn’t seem like they’re mak­ing steps for­ward. That’s why I’m happy with this whole process.”


Notre Dame se­nior boys bas­ket­ball head coach

Bernd.Franke @ni­a­garadailies.com 905-225-1624 | @TribS­port­sDesk


Gover­nor Sim­coe’s Ma­son MacEach­ern goes up for a shot against host Notre Dame in Tri­bune Boys Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship ac­tion.

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