Notre Dame handles Deerfield
The Notre Dame boys basketball team is aiming for its third supersectional appearance in school history.
But first things first.
The Dons had to fight off a gritty Deerfield team, eventually coming away with a 48-32 victory in the Class 3A sectional semifinals hosted by Grayslake North on Tuesday night.
"It was kind of a trap game," said Dons coach Kevin Clancy, whose troops improved to 29-5 overall and will play the winner of Wednesday night's St. Viator vs. St. Patrick game on Friday at 7 p.m. for the sectional title.
"Given the expectations, there's a tendency to look ahead. And Deerfield made us work hard."
Top-seeded Notre Dame scored the first bucket of the game and never trailed.
Balanced scoring helped the Dons build a 12-6 lead after the first period.
Louis Lesmond, Jason Bergstrom and Troy D'Amico all hit 3-pointers in the first.
Deerfield's 6-foot-11 center Brandon Lieb scored 4 of his 9 points in the first.
Lesmond went crazy in the second, chipping in 7 of his game-high 17 points.
Anthony Sales complemented him with 6 of his 9 points in the second frame.
And the Dons' defense gave Lieb and 6-3 forward Joe Shapiro fits all night long in the paint.
"We knew we had to stop them inside because of their height," said D'Amico. "My teammates did a great job of backing me up."
Notre Dame took a 27-14 lead into the locker room.
But Deerfield wasn't going anywhere.
The fifth-seeded Warriors (21-11) closed to within 32-27 after 2 free throws by Walt Mattingly (7 points) with 42 seconds left in the third.
But a big trey with one second left in the quarter by D'Amico upped the lead to 35-27.
"Our offense went a little stagnant in the third," he said. "But we got a big lift from (6-7 center Vince Kilfoy) in the fourth."
Kilfoy popped in all 6 of his points in the fourth as Notre Dame started pulling away.
A 13-2 run to open the period helped the Dons build a 48-29 lead with 1:50 left in the game. The run was capped by a layup by Sayles. Sayles also had a thunderous dunk during the spree. Two free throws by Lieb ended the run.
Sayles and Lesmond each had two dunks in the contest.
"We were really active on the ball and got a lot of players involved," said Clancy. "There's no looking ahead. One game at a time."
The Notre Dame defense also stiffened in the fourth, holding the Warriors to 1 field goal by Luke Woodson (6 points).
"Our composure was big throughout the game, especially in the third," Clancy said.