ND captures Round 3 with Jackson

Saturday, January 13, 2007
Notre Dame's John Unterreiner drove to the basket against Jackson's Matt Lang during Friday's game at Jackson High School. (Kit Doyle)

After splitting the first two meetings, the Bulldogs won the third encounter with Jackson 57-54.

In two prior meetings, Notre Dame's and Jackson's boys basketball teams had combined to average 166 points per game while splitting a pair of tournament games in December.

The third meeting between the two teams was slowed by improved defense and turnovers, and Notre Dame claimed the season series following a 57-54 win Friday at Jackson.

"We spent the whole week and we really concentrated on defense," Notre Dame coach Paul Hale said. "I thought we played a little better defensively."

Early in the game, the Bulldogs (14-3) could not find their offense. Notre Dame was called for multiple traveling calls in the opening quarter and continually forced shots over Jackson's tall front line.

After the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead to open the game, Jackson (10-6) led the rest of the opening half. The Indians built their lead to 21-9 early in the second quarter and could have had an even bigger lead if not for a slew of turnovers.

"We didn't feel like we played well offensively," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said. "There were times there, especially in the first half, where we felt we could have extended our lead."

Jackson junior guard Jake Leet was the thorn in Notre Dame's side, hitting three 3-pointers in the opening half. The Bulldogs used their pressure defense to chip away at Jackson's lead, though, and narrowed the gap to 25-23 by halftime.

Each team's leading scorers, Leet and Notre Dame junior Ryan Willen, were on their game early. Leet had 13 points at halftime, and Willen had 11.

Notre Dame's defensive pressure continued to bother the Indians in the third quarter, and its offense finally came around. Sophomore guard John Unterreiner led the Bulldogs in the third, giving Notre Dame its first lead since the opening basket with a 3-pointer less than 3 minutes into the quarter. Unterreiner scored seven points in the period, and the Bulldogs pulled ahead 41-37 heading to the fourth.

"The second half, I really thought he stepped up," Hale said. "The second half, he showed some leadership and some fire."

The Bulldogs did not trail the rest of the way. Leet cut the lead to 45-43 midway through the fourth, but Willen answered with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 49-43.

Notre Dame put the game away at the free throw line. The Bulldogs hit five of their final six free throws and made seven of 10 in the fourth quarter. Through three quarters, Notre Dame was just five-for-13 from the line.

"We haven't shot free throws well all year, but we have been working on them" Hale said. "We hit them down the stretch."

Willen led the Bulldogs with 17 points, Unterreiner had 13 and Ty Williams added 11. The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 in the SEMO Conference.

"We came out and we knew we had to play good defense, and we just played really hard," Willen said.

Leet led the Indians with 20 points, Hunter Grantham had 13, and Antonio Garritano added 10. Spencer Goodman, a 6-foot-7 junior and one of Jackson's top returning players, had just two points. Goodman has struggled since coming back from an injury which sidelined him for the majority of the season.

"I was pleased defensively with what we showed tonight," Scott said. "We've had a stretch where we've finally gotten healthy, and now we have to get them playing better offensively and get them in a rhythm."

Notre Dame 57, Jackson 54

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NOTRE DAME (57) -- Ryan Willen 17, John Unterreiner 13, Ty Williams 11, Austin Greer 8, Logan Glueck 4, Abe Dirnberger 4. FG 21, FT 14-23, F 17 (3-pointers: Unterreiner 2, Willen 1. Fouled out: none)

JACKSON (54) -- Jake Leet 20, Hunter Grantham 13, Antonio Garritano 10, Marcus Harris 7, Matt Lang 2, Spencer Goodman 2. FG 21, FT 8-12, F 21 (3-pointers: Leet 4. Fouled out: none)

JV -- Notre Dame won 51-45.

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