Notre Dame, Sayles makes the clock strike midnight on cinderella Maine West in Hardwood Classic semifinal
Last updated 12/28/2019 at 7:07pm
On Friday night in Wheeling High School's Hardwood Classic, Notre Dame's standout junior guard Anthony Sayles had one of the greatest second-half scoring outbursts in the 42-year history of the Classic.
With just two points at halftime and his top-seeded Dons trailing Maine West 24-17, Sayles took over the game.
Sayles scored 24 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, leading Notre Dame (13-2) to an improbable 59-49 victory. With the win, the Dons will face undefeated Glenbrook South (13-0) for the 2019 Hardwood Classic Championship, at 8:45 p.m on Saturday night. Glenbrook South defeated Niles North 70-62 in the second semifinal on Friday night.
Entering the 2019 Hardwood Holiday Basketball Classic at Wheeling High School, Maine West lost six of its first eight games. With a number of football Warriors getting "their basketball legs," coach Tom Prokiopi knew it would be just a matter of time before his Warriors started to roll.
On Monday, the Warriors stunned The Hardwood Classic defending-champion Geneva 47-42 in their first-round game. On Thursday, behind a long-range artillery barrage from Warrior junior Jared Pearson, who scored 27 points on five of seven shooting from behind the arc, Libertyville fell 63-55 to the Warriors.
Up next for Cinderella on Friday night was the top-seeded Dons in the tournament's first semifinal.
After Maine West (4-7) grabbed an 11-5 lead after one quarter, Pearson (21 points) again began bombing from downtown, burying three 3's and scoring 13 second-quarter points. With two minutes remaining in the first half, Maine West led 24-10.
On seven charity tosses from Troy D'Amico (nine points), Jason Bergstrom (10 points, five rebounds) and Sayles, Notre Dame (13-2) closed to within 24-17 at the half.
The Dons made only three field goals in the first half on 21 shots. The Dons missed all 12 of their first-half shots from beyond the arc.
"At halftime I just had two points," Sayles said. "My teammates told me, 'Anthony you have to get it going.' By getting my teammates involved, it helped me get my game going. Soon my shots started falling and we came back and won the game."
With the game deadlocked at 36-36 with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter, Sayles scored the next 13 Notre Dame points. Sayles, buried a pair of three-point bombs to give the Dons a 42-36 lead after three quarters. His third three-pointer of the game gave him 13 consecutive points scored, giving Notre Dame a 49-42 lead with 4:45 remaining.
Notre Dame's senior point guard Jimmy Murphy scored six points and added three steals on the night. Murphy's back-to-back buckets gave the Dons a 30-26 lead with 4:17 in the third period.
"Worst shooting first-half for us all year," Murphy said. "Maine West was very physical but we worked through it.
Anthony was amazing making all kind of shots. In the second half, I looked to score with Anthony."
Six-foot-5 Louis Lesmond scored eight points, hauled down seven rebounds and handed out three assists for ND.
"Anthony willed us to this victory," Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy said. "He put us on his back and carried us. Anthony is a special basketball player. Jimmy (Murphy) really played outstanding for us and had a huge jumper and got to the rim for another huge basket in our third quarter comeback."