Notre Dame boys win thriller, district title

Saturday, February 24, 2007
Sikeston's Michael Porter drove to the basket during the second quarter of Friday's championship game of the Class 4 District 1 tournament 1 at Sikeston High School. Notre Dame prevailed 67-65 on a 3-point shot at the buzzer. (Kit Doyle)

Bulldogs defeat Sikeston 67-65 on 3-pointer at the buzzer.

SIKESTON -- Notre Dame senior Abe Dirnberger may have been the least likely 3-point shooter on the floor for the Bulldogs in the waning seconds of Friday's Class 4 District 1 championship game against Sikeston.

With Notre Dame trailing 65-64 with 2.9 seconds remaining, Dirnberger found himself behind the arc and with the ball in his hands. Dirnberger's desperation 3-pointer from deep on the wing found the back of the net, propelling Notre Dame into the sectional round with a 67-65 win.

"I didn't expect to shoot it at the end," Dirnberger said. "I don't think Sikeston did either, that's why I was wide open."

Notre Dame will face Farmington in the sectional round Wednesday at Mineral Area College in Park Hills.

Sikeston's all-state sophomore Michael Porter gave Sikeston the lead by making one of two free throws with 15.1 seconds remaining. Notre Dame junior guard Ty Williams brought the ball up and tried to penetrate, but was forced to pick up his dribble and had to call timeout.

The target on the final play was Notre Dame leading scorer Ryan Willen, but Willen did not have a shot inside. When the ball was kicked out to Dirnberger, time appeared to be running out on Notre Dame's hopes.

"I just couldn't believe it," Notre Dame junior guard Ty Williams said. "It was amazing. We were looking for Ryan inside off the screen or me, but Sikeston had that covered. Abe was left open and he hit a big shot."

Dirnberger's 3-pointer avenged a narrow defeat at the hands of Sikeston in last year's district championship game. Sikeston went on to finish runner-up in Class 4 last year.

Notre Dame had beaten Sikeston handily earlier this season, but Friday's game was back-and-forth throughout the game. Notre Dame led early in the first and second quarter, but Sikeston finished each quarter up one, heading into halftime with a 35-34 lead.

Sikeston's lead was three points after three quarters and grew to 54-47 early in the fourth quarter. Ray Rodgers hit one of two free throws with 1:12 remaining to push the lead to 64-61 and Sikeston appeared headed for another district title.

"I still believed, I knew we could still get it," Williams said. "Even when we were down one, I knew we could get it."

Mark Himmelberg tied the score at 64-64 with his sixth 3-pointer with 58 seconds remaining. Notre Dame had the ball with 34 seconds left and the score tied, but turned the ball over, which led to Porter's free throw.

Himmelberg and Williams led Notre Dame with 18 points apiece, and Willen added 16 points.

"The real hero tonight was Mark Himmelberg," Dirnberger said. "His six 3's kept us in the game, especially the last one which tied it up."

Porter led Sikeston with 27 points and Julian Beard added 17 points.

Notre Dame 67, Sikeston 65

Notre Dame18161320--67

NOTRE DAME (67) -- Mark Himmelberg 18, Ty Williams 18, Ryan Willen 16, Austin Greer 6, John Unterreiner 4, Abe Dirnberger 5. FG 23, FT 10-15, F 17 (3-pointers: Himmelberg 6, Williams 2, Dirnberger 1. Fouled out: Himmelberg)

SIKESTON (65) -- Michael Porter 27, Julian Beard 17, Isaac Porter 5, Blake Taylor 5, Ray Rodgers 5, Josh Jackson 3, Brandon Washington 2. FG 26, FT 10-22, F 17 (3-pointers: I. Porter 1, Beard 1, Jackson 1. Fouled out: Washington)

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