Christmas Tournament semifinals: Second-half run carries Notre Dame past Jackson

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Notre Dame's Jacob Tolbert blocks a shot by Jackson's Eli Gohn during their semifinal game Monday at the Show Me Center.

A short-handed Jackson team made Notre Dame work harder than some expected.

But the Bulldogs finally were able to take control in the second half to move into the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament championship game.

Second-seeded Notre Dame rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to clip third-seeded Jackson 50-39 in Monday's semifinals.

The Bulldogs, who last won the tournament in 2005, play top-seeded Scott County Central tonight for the title.

"We got off to a slow start," Notre Dame coach Kevin Roberts said. "They made a whole bunch of shots in the first half and we didn't make many.

Jackson's Cody Green drives past Bulldogs defender Matt Helle on Monday.

"The second half we picked up our defense and got easy baskets. I was really pleased with our effort in the second half."

Jackson entered Monday's game without senior guard Marcus Harris, the squad's leading scorer.

Harris, who had 21 points in Saturday's quarterfinal win against Leopold despite feeling ill, was in the hospital with pneumonia.

"Marcus played with pneumonia Saturday," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said. "He's a tough kid."

In addition, senior forward Andrew Shrum missed the contest with an injury.

"We're missing some guys, but I'm extremely proud of our effort," Scott said.

Despite those absent players, the Indians (5-3) controlled the first half, leading by as many as nine points before settling for a 26-19 halftime edge.

"We had a sluggish start, but coach Scott always has a good game plan against us," Notre Dame senior guard John Unterreiner said. "They wanted it more than we did in the first half."

Notre Dame (7-4) finally got its offense going in the third quarter, outscoring Jackson 20-9 and putting up more points than the Bulldogs had in the first two periods combined.

"We settled down in the second half," Unterreiner said. "We started knocking down some shots."

Junior guard Nick Koeppel made two free throws with a minute left in the third quarter to put Notre Dame on top 36-35.

The Bulldogs never relinquished the lead.

Ahead 39-35 entering the final period, the Bulldogs remained in control with their defense, then iced things by making 7 of 8 free throws in the last 2:30.

Sophomore center Jacob Tolbert led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Unterreiner added 12.

"You have to give Jackson credit. They're well coached and well disciplined," Roberts said. "It could have gone either way."

Junior guard Kyle Keith paced Jackson with 11 points.

"We played hard, but Notre Dame really executed well in the third quarter," Scott said.

The Bulldogs, who avenged a loss to Jackson in last year's championship game, now will try to slow down Scott County Central's machine that has rolled through the tournament.

"I think everyone's written us off already, but we like that," Unterreiner said. "They're a phenomenal team, scary to watch. But we look forward to the challenge."

Jackson will attempt to bounce back in tonight's third-place game against fourth-seeded Charleston.

"We put ourselves in a position to be 3-1 in the tournament," Scott said. "That would be big for us."


Notre Dame6132011--50

@z_agate_no tab_no indnt_bld ld:Jackson (39) -- Taylor Williams 3, Kyle Keith 11, Lucas Davis 6, Zach McDowell 2, Tyson Stoverink 5, Eli Gohn 4, Bobby Clark 8. FG 15, FT 4-6, F 15. (3-pointers: Keith 3, Williams 1, Stoverink 1. Fouled out: None)

Notre Dame (50) -- Nick Koeppel 6, Alex Bader 3, John Unterreiner 12, Austin Greer 9, Jacob Tolbert 14, Joseph Tolbert 5, Matt Helle 1. FG 16, FT 15-23, F 12. (3-pointers: Bader 1, Unterreiner 1, Jo. Tolbert 1. Fouled out: None)

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: