Nathan LeGrand's high school basketball career is just beginning.
It's also winding down.
Notre Dame's 6-foot-3 center didn't go out for basketball until his senior year, but on Friday night he was making up for lost time at the expense of the Jackson Indians.
Making just his second start of the season, LeGrand, scored a team-high 12 points to lead the Bulldogs to a thrilling 53-48 victory at Notre Dame Regional High School.
"I love it," said LeGrand, who last played organized basketball in eighth grade. "I had totally forgotten how much fun it was."
LeGrand was starting in place of 6-6 center Doug Schaefer, who saw his playing time trimmed back after being sick the last couple of days, and was half of an unlikely hero tandem for the Bulldogs. Reserve guard Wayne Essner sank three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.
With point guard Scott Wittenborn, who scored 21 points in the previous game, held scoreless and shooting guard Travis Siebert getting just two points, LeGrand and Essner helped position the Bulldogs for victory, which wasn't decided until the final minute.
"We did a great job on Wittenborn and Siebert and their other kids just stepped up, and that's what good teams do," said Jackson coach Mike Kiehne.
With the game tied 47-47, Siebert put Notre Dame (12-5) ahead for good as he scored his only points on a pair of free throws with 1:12 remaining. After Tyler McNeely countered with a free throw for Jackson (9-8), the Bulldogs were perfect on four more free throws as they pulled away for the victory.
It was in contrast to Tuesday when the Bulldogs led two-time state champion New Madrid Co. Central by six points with less than two minutes left and lost.
"I'm proud of the way the kids played, especially the way they played the last two minutes of the game," Notre Dame coach Darrin Scott said.
Cory Beussink added 10 points for Notre Dame.
Lance Bollinger and Seth McDowell each scored 12 points for Jackson, which also received 10 points from McNeely.
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