ND tops SCC to reach semifinal

Friday, December 28, 2007

When Notre Dame junior Austin Greer was matched up against some big bodies last weekend in the Show Me Center, he had a quiet day offensively.

With the Bulldogs facing another challenge Thursday night in the Show Me Center in the semifinals of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament, Greer was the offensive beneficiary when Scott County Central's press was broken.

Greer scored 23 points to lift fifth-seeded Notre Dame to a 68-60 victory over the Braves.

Notre Dame (6-4) advances to play top-seeded Charleston at 6 p.m. tonight.

Scott County Central (7-2) will face Oran 3 p.m. in a fifth-place bracket that also includes Scott City (5-1) and No. 2 seed Bell City (9-1).

"We thought it if we could break their press, we would be able to get it inside," Notre Dame coach Paul Hale said. "In the second half especially, we did a good job of breaking their press. We're getting better."

Greer, a post player at just 6 feet, 1 inch, had his hands full with Gateway Tech's size in a loss Saturday. On Thursday, he was up against Scott County Centrals beefy 6-1 Caleb Johnson.

"He's a beast, too, and he works hard," Greer said.

Johnson had 20 points to lead the Braves while senior guard D.D. Gillespie added 18.

But the Braves, who hammered Chaffee with relentless pressure in their 94-27 tournament-opening win Wednesday, had streaks of success and failure on Thursday.

Greer was most often the one scoring when the Braves' press broke down.

"I was just trying to attack the basket," Greer said. "Coach told me I would get my opportunities if we broke the press and I kept attacking the basket. I was surprised at all our guards handled it. We went over it all morning, and we knew it would be a guard's game. We have good guards."

Sophomore Nick Koeppel senior Mark Himmelberg and junior John Unterreiner were able to help the Bulldogs overcome the absence of Ty Williams, who has been sidelined by a back injury.

Unterreiner scored 10 points, and both guards were part of Notre Dame's march to the free throw line in the final period. The Bulldogs hit 11 of 11 free throws in the final period and finished the night 17-of-18.

That accuracy helped the Bulldogs pull away from a 60-58 lead in the final 2 minutes, 20 seconds.

Scott County Central had recovered from a 49-39 deficit in the second half, using its transition game for spurts, particularly a 10-2 fourth-quarter run that included a layin by Gillespie and a steal and layin by Johnson. Toby Heeb hit a 3, and Drew Thomas layin off a fastbreak that made it a two-point game.

But Scott County Central's offense suddenly went quiet, with 1-of-4 shooting, while Unterreiner, Greer and Koeppel drained eight free throws to close out the game.

Bulldogs senior Ryan Willen, a 6-8 Division I player considered to be the matchup problem for Scott County Central, did score 19 points but didn't hit the scoreboard until hitting with 18 seconds to play in the first period.

He also had a highlight-reel blocked shot to stop a Braves breakaway in the fourth period and charged up the crowd. The Bulldogs improved to 4-1 with Willen in the lineup since returning from a stress fracture.

Now, they will try to avenge a 30-point loss earlier this season against Charleston in the SEMO Conference tournament semifinals.

NOTRE DAME 68, SCOTT COUNTY CENTRAL 60

Notre Dame 12 18 21 17 -- 68

SCC 8 20 15 17--60

NOTRE DAME (60) -- Nick Koeppel 8, Mark Himmelberg 8, John Unterreiner 10, Austin Greer 23, Ryan Willen 19. FG 24, FT 17-18, F 11 (3-pointers: Himmelberg 2, Greer 1. Fouled out: none.)

SCOTT COUNTY CENTRAL (68) -- D.D. Gillespie 18, Toby Heeb 5, Bobby Hatchett 4, Drew Thomas 4, Caleb Johnson 20, Randy Timmons 3, Otto Porter 6. FG 26, FT 6-12, F 20 (3-pointers: Gillespie 1, Heeb 1. Fouled out: none)

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