Notre Dame drops Maine South
Every successful basketball team has an unsung player who's the engine, a player who pushes the team to excel both on offense and on defense.
Meet Notre Dame senior guard Jimmy Murphy.
"I know I am playing with three Division-I basketball players," said Murphy. "I need to work to get them open. That's what a point guard is supposed to do."
Murphy did his job on both ends of the floor in the Dons' nonconference 72-50 win over Maine South in Park Ridge Tuesday night.
"I told Jimmy and the players that this was his most complete game of the season," said Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy, who saw his Class 3A No. 1 ranked team improve to 23-3. "He made the hustle plays, set up the other players, and scored himself. He was really under control"
Just the type of play you would expect from an East Suburban Catholic Conference two time all-conference defensive back.
In front of spirited student sections for both teams in the large crowd, the Hawks (14-11) came out strong and executed their game plan.
Using back door cuts, the Hawks were able to keep pace with the Dons for the first half.
Casey Clark hit a 3-pointer for Maine South and Nikola Zelenovic 2 free throws to close the first quarter trailing 13-12.
Trailing 27-24 following Zelenovic's 3, Maine South missed a one-and-bonus and 2 free throws in the final 19 seconds, yet stayed within 28-24.
A right ankle injury to the Hawks' Danny Locascio near the end of the first quarter flared up and he was not able to play in the second half.
Notre Dame used a 8-0 run to start the second half that gave it breathing room at 36-24.
Anthony Sayles, who would score 17 points, started the run. Troy D'Amico (15 points, 2 blocks) hit one of the Dons' 11 3-pointers. Murphy would then connect on 3 of 4 free throws.
Maine South's Marko Anderson (10 points, 6 rebounds) would score 6 points in the quarter but the Dons had too much balance, outscoring the Hawks 23-11 to take a 51-35 lead into the final quarter.
"We knew that they would be a tough team to beat," said Anderson. "We had some good energy to start the game. We have to keep using that same type of energy. We had a good game plan attacking them inside."
Clark, Zelanovic, and Anderson all scored 10 points for Maine South. Sean Galley added 7 points and Nick Ostojic had 6 points.
"We didn't come out with energy at the start," said Murphy, who had 10 points, 5 assists and 2 steals. "We had to come out with more energy in the second half."
"Jimmy makes us go," said D'Amico. "He's a good passer and he finds us. He's tough-minded and does a lot of the little things. He's not afraid of anybody. He's a competitor."
"We were tentative in the first half," said Clancy. "We didn't make good decisions. The second half was a different ballgame for us. With a team like Maine South, the longer you let them hang around, the more the game gets tight."
Maine South coach Tony Lavorato liked what he saw from his Hawks, despite the loss.
"Last year when we beat them," said Lavorato, "we had the experience and they were young like us this year. We made some nice strides in the right direction against one of the best and deepest teams we've played. I was proud of our effort. Now we have to just continue that. I'm excited about this team."
Louis Lesmond led Notre Dame with 19 points.