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Notre Dame boys basketball team rallies from 19-point deficit to beat Jackson in SEMO Conference Tournament
SIKESTON, Mo. -- Things looked bleak for the Notre Dame boys basketball team at halftime Monday night.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs trailed fourth-seeded Jackson by 19 points in the opening round of the SEMO Conference tournament -- yet junior guard Jordan Williamson professed to be confident of a comeback.
"I actually kind of expected it because we came out of the locker room fired up after coach chewed our butts out," Williamson said.
Williamson proved to be prophetic.
Notre Dame staged an improbable second-half rally and stunned the Indians 64-59.
"Unbelievable," Notre Dame coach Kevin Roberts said. "We played so bad in the first half and so good in the second half.
"I knew we were better than what we showed in the first half. We took bad shots. We just didn't play well."
Roberts expects the Bulldogs (1-1) to have plenty of ups and downs this season after they graduated all five starters from last year and have little varsity experience.
That's why Roberts was so excited after the huge rally.
"This win is so big for these young guys, to show we can compete with these teams," said Roberts, who starts four sophomores and a junior. "I was so proud of the effort. I told them this is one of the best wins I've had as a coach."
Sophomore guard Quinn Poythress said patience was the key for the Bulldogs in the second half.
"We knew it was going to be tough," Poythress said. "We weren't going to score 20 points right away. We knew we had to chip at it. Coach said if we could get it to within 10 points at the end of the third quarter we'd be all right."
Notre Dame hit its target and then some. A 9-0 run to begin the second half set the stage for a 19-7 third-quarter advantage as the Indians (1-1) saw their lead sliced to 47-40.
The Bulldogs kept coming in the final period, fueled by a pair of early Poythress 3-pointers. His second trey cut the deficit to 50-49.
"Quinn got going in the fourth quarter. That was big for us," Roberts said.
Junior forward Jordan Barber, who had a strong game battling the much taller Indians inside, scored with six minutes left to put Notre Dame up 51-50. It was the Bulldogs' first lead since 6-4 in the early going.
"We stayed positive," Barber said of the Bulldogs' mindset at halftime. "We knew were going to come out and start making plays we should have been making."
Notre Dame built a 54-50 advantage with under three minutes left but Jackson did not go down quietly.
The Indians rallied back and went ahead 56-55 on a foul-line jumper by junior guard Karson King with 1:59 remaining.
"I'm proud of the fact we made some plays to get back in it and even took the lead again," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said.
But the Indians' advantage was short-lived.
Poythress answered King's basket with a tough 15-foot baseline jumper at the 1:45 mark as Notre Dame went back on top 57-56.
"I thought I was fouled on that," Poythress said. "I was just fortunate it went in."
Williamson's steal and layup with 1:28 to go made it 59-56.
Jackson failed to convert on its next possession but got another chance when Notre Dame committed a turnover with 55 seconds left.
The Indians missed two free throws seven seconds later -- they were just 5 of 11 from the line in the fourth quarter.
"We missed some free throws [and] that hurt," Scott said.
Williamson hit two free throws with 42 seconds left to put Notre Dame up 61-56. After a Jackson turnover, Poythress made two foul shots at the 29-second mark to make it 63-56.
King gave Jackson a glimmer of hope when he banked in a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to make it 63-59, but Poythress hit 1 of 2 foul shots nine seconds later to complete the scoring.
"It was exhilarating," Barber said of the comeback.
Barber led the Bulldogs with 15 points off the bench. He was about Notre Dame's only offensive threat in the first half, scoring nine points.
"He did a really good job," Roberts said.
Poythress scored all 14 of his points in the second half, 12 in the fourth quarter.
"They weren't going in the first half," Poythress said. "I had to stay patient."
Notre Dame was hurt by 15 first-half turnovers but committed only four in the second half.
The Indians had 13 first-half turnovers but Notre Dame rarely capitalized. That changed in the final half, when the Bulldogs seemed to take advantage of nearly all 19 Jackson turnovers.
"We handled their pressure and made some adjustments," Roberts said of the second half. "We converted the turnovers into baskets. We didn't in the first half."
Said Scott: "They shot the ball well in the second half. We lost our composure."
King paced the Indians with 16 points. Sophomore guard Braden Wendel had 11 points and 6-foot-8 junior center Brandon Lueders scored all 10 of his points in the first half.
Jackson's size -- King is 6-5 while the Indians have several other players between 6-4 and 6-7 -- was a major factor in the opening half before Notre Dame's quickness made its mark in the second half.
"Their pressure was effective. They play extremely hard," Scott said.
Notre Dame advances to play top-seeded, defending tournament champion Charleston at 7 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals.
Jackson will try to bounce back against eighth-seeded Dexter at 6 p.m. today in the consolation semifinals.
Monday's other first-round games saw second-seeded, host Sikeston rout seventh-seeded Poplar Bluff 78-53 and Charleston crush Dexter 74-23.
NOTRE DAME (64) -- Cody Debrock 5, Quinn Poythress 14, Jordan Williamson 8, Patrick Williamson 2, Dalton Welch 3, Luke Mocherman 4, Trenton Schumer 6, Grant Ressel 1, Jordan Barber 15, Tanner Shively 6. FG 23, FT 14-23, F 19. (3-pointers: Poythress 2, Welch 1, Schumer 1. Fouled out: none)
JACKSON (59) -- Josh Daume 4, Braxton McDowell 4, Josh Friess 4, Braden Wendel 11, Karson King 16, Blake Reynolds 4, Brandon Lueders 10, Luke Stevens 6. FG 21, FT 13-25, F 20. (3-pointers: Wendel 2, King 2. Fouled out: Friess)