Top-Ranked Goodpasture Edges Notre Dame
Fighting Irish Fall in DII-A State First Round
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - by James Beach
Derwin Lewis breaks away for a Notre Dame layup.
- photo by M.A. Locke
Some things are inevitable and apparently the Notre Dame basketball team finding its way on the tracks between Goodpasture and a trip to the Division II-A State Quarterfinals is one of them.
For the second year in a row, the state’s top-ranked team from Madison found a way to get in a trip to Chattanooga for a 32-minute tussle with the Fighting Irish in the opening round of the state tournament. And for the second year in a row, the Cougars ended Notre Dame’s season en route to the final eight, getting a tougher-than-expected 42-36 victory in the Irish’s Phifer Gymnasium Wednesday night.
“I’m not sure what we’ve done to get saddled with having to play such a great team two years in a row.
We won last year in the region and got them, and we lost this year and still got them. I mean they’ve lost five games total in two years, but here they are in our gym for a second year. Maybe next year will be a third time is the charm thing,” said Notre Dame coach Jonathan Adams.
The second time was pretty close to being a charmed one for the Irish.
Last year, the top-ranked Cougars had an 18-game win streak snapped in the region and paid the price of a Notre Dame visit for the misstep. This year, Goodpasture (30-2) saw a 26-game winning streak come to an end last week in the region, and came paralyzing close to really paying the price because of it.
“No disrespect, but I thought Notre Dame’s team last year was really good, and I honestly felt like we brought a better team down here with us this year, but that doesn’t get you any points and it doesn’t get you any stops on defense. Tournament time is all about advancing, so I guess I am happy with that, but we were fortunate tonight because this wasn’t one of our better games,” said Goodpasture coach Adam Sonn.
“We lost our focus in the game, and had some poor shot selection, but the thing that really got us was we got our hands on a bunch of balls, but we didn’t secure them. We didn’t get the turnovers or the rebounds or many of what I call the tough plays. To Notre Dame’s credit, they did,” Sonn added.
The Cougars did step off the bus and get an 11-0 run to open the game, but much like their bus which wouldn’t start after the game when it was time to leave, they sputtered late in the second quarter and it carried over to the third period. Notre Dame found itself down 17-4 late in the second period as Goodpasture put on its usual clinic of screens and backdoors and passing up open shots for wide open shots with the extra pass.
The Irish, which replaced five senior starters from last year’s squad, went on a 19-5 run over the final 2:36 of the second period through first four minutes of the second half to completely stun the visitors by taking a 23-22 lead on Tarik Nelson’s steal and layup at the 4:51 mark. It was senior guard Derwin Lewis, though, who did the most damage for Notre Dame scoring 13 of his 18 points in that run, but more importantly, breathing an air of confidence in the home team.
“I think facing them last year helped and we were better prepared for their zone defense. We got off to a terrible start, and I just felt like I needed to spark something for us. Once we got settled down, we were ok,” said Lewis.
Goodpasture may be one of the most fundamentally sound programs in the entire state and with length at every position sometimes it looked as if the Irish were trying to slip through a spider web unscathed. Early on, every pass was challenged and every shot was contested. What looked like an open jumper was quickly closed on and Goodpasture wound up with six blocked shots on what began as open looks.
When Lewis nailed the first of his four 3-pointers to cut it to 17-7, it was like a light switch was flipped and slowly but surely Notre Dame started to drip with confidence.
“We talked a lot about being confident tonight. We played so many great teams on our schedule this year so I knew we had it in us, and Derwin, being a senior, really seemed to have a calming effect on the team,” Adams praised.
Even Sonn felt the shift in momentum.
“Even when we were up on them, I just never really felt it tonight. It was one of those coach sense things and I tried to get our guys to take it up a notch, but once Notre Dame got confident in the second quarter and really into the third quarter, it was difficult. We’ve done this before where our offense wasn’t sharp, but our defense was, and we pride ourselves on playing games multiple ways, but tonight we had to really suck it up at the end to escape,” Sonn admitted.
Goodpasture settled for four straight missed 3s in the third and Nelson drilled a long 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer to give the Irish a 28-27 lead and a whole lot of momentum. But the Cougars haven’t won 104 games with their senior class by accident, and the poise down the stretch was the difference.
Notre Dame’s Bryson Smith tied it at 33-all with his rebound follow and Lewis nailed a trey to pull the Irish within 37-36 with 2:12 left before Goodpasture closed on a 5-0 run with Cole Dotson’s backdoor layup being the nail in the proverbial coffin. The Cougars hit all five of their fourth quarter shots and four of seven free throws.
To get an idea of how well Notre Dame competed, the single-digit margin of victory for Goodpasture was just the eighth such win among the 30 wins collected. To put it in perspective, Goodpasture has nine wins of 30 or more points and have an average margin of victory of 23 points per win.
Carson Woosley was the lone Cougar in double digits with 10 points and Lewis led all scorers with his stellar 18 point outing. Goodpasture will visit Tipton-Rosemark on Saturday in hopes of securing the program’s 13th trip to the state final four. Notre Dame closes the year at 17-17.
Goodpasture 11 9 7 15 – 42
Notre Dame 2 11 15 8 – 36
GOODPASTURE (42) – Smith 9, Sowlock 7, Murrell, Pennington , Phillips 3, Tinnin 6, Carson Woosley 10, Dotson 7.
NOTRE DAME (36) – Jones, Nelson 6, Wilkerson, Beard 2, Derwin Lewis 18, Robinson, Osborne, Smith 6, Price, Vagn 4.
3-point goals: Goodpasture 4 (Smith 3, Scanock); Notre Dame 5 (Lewis 4, Nelson).
(Contact James Beach via email at email@example.com or Twitter @beachnut1134)
Cal Price attempts a 3-pointer in front of Goodpasture fans.
- photo by M.A. Locke