SPECIAL TO THE BLOG
WELLAND – Notre Dame senior boys basketball team will go into the weekend’s Catholic Classic tournament with some momentum.
The Irish put together three strong quarters Tuesday evening for a 68-31 win over Holy Cross Raiders at Dillon Hall.
They led 12-10 at the end of the first and 36-19 at the half.
In the words of Irish coach Mark Gallagher, the win was “an important one for us.” He said it secured the Irish second place in the league and with it, guaranteed that Notre Dame will host a semi-final matchup next week. The Irish will likely play St. Francis Monday, February 13 at ND.
Gallagher said solid defence turned out to be the key to the win.
“After a slow start we picked up the pressure on the ball and the game changed. (Brandon) Graziani did a great job on the Holy Cross ball handlers and it took them right out of their offence.”
Alex Root controlled the Raiders’ best player, Ivan Peso, according to Gallagher. Peso started with a quick eight points in the first quarter “but after a few adjustments and some help on the screens from our other guards he was held to three points the rest of the game.”
A balanced score sheet greeted Gallagher at the buzzer: Braidon Moore scored 16 for the Irish, Kyle Cooper had 12, and Graziani and Root scored 11 apiece. All four sat out the game’s fourth quarter. All the Irish players played in the game and all but one scored.
The Irish have practices Wednesday and Thursday leading up to the Catholic Classic on Friday and Saturday with games at Denis Morris, St. Catharines and Dillon Hall.
The Irish have won this tournament on five occasions and lost in the finals in four others.
The winning years, with the tournament MVP bracketed are: 1976 (Tom Skerlak); 1982 (Tom Swick); 1984 (Tom Swick); 1989 (Mike Ruscitti) and 2006 (Chad Patus). In 1975, 1988, 1991 and 1996 Notre Dame lost in the finals.
The Irish will meet Holy Trinity Titans from Oakville Friday at 11 a.m. in Dillon Hall. The Titans are ranked 12th in the GTA by Hooptowngta.com. In their league they are tied for first with Bishop Reding and St. Thomas Aquinas.
In addition to hosts Denis Morris Reds and the Irish, this area is also represented by St. Francis Phoenix and St. Paul Patriots.