By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle 

AP 3A No.1 Dons, Murphy use second-half to finish off feisty, young Hawks


Last updated 2/5/2020 at 8:59am

Before an almost capacity-crowd at Maine South High School in Park Ridge on Tuesday, the Associated Press' Illinois Class 3A No.1-ranked Notre Dame took on the young and talented Maine South.

The top-ranked Dons hopped on their bus for the short bus ride to Maine South and ran into a buzz saw from the host Hawks.

Fired up by their huge, raucous student section, the young Hawks led 13-12 after one quarter and would only trail 28-24 at the half.

Notre Dame, behind senior Jimmy Murphy and juniors Troy D' Amico (15 points, eight rebounds, four blocks), Anthony Sayles (17 points, three rebounds, three blocks, three steals) and Louis Lesmond (19 points, six rebounds,three blocks) ran away from the Hawks in the second half and win going away 72-50.

Having turned the ball over just four times in the first half against the vaunted Notre Dame defense, the young Hawks turned the ball over three times in the first two minutes of the third quarter.

Led by Murphy, the Dons went on an 8-0 run and opened up a 36-24 lead. Murphy (10 points, three rebounds,four assists, two steals) drew a five-second count, forced another turnover, grabbed a huge offensive rebound and convert three of four free throws in the 8-0 run.

"We had a rough first half," Murphy said. "We had to come out and stop their back doors that they scored on in the first half. At the start of the second half, we really came after them on defense and went on the big run."

Sayles and D' Amico each scored eight points in the third quarter and the Dons would lead 51-35 after three quarters.

"Maine South's match-up zone really gave us problems in the first half," Sayles said. "We figured it out in the second half and rolled to this big win.

"Jimmy Murphy is the glue to our team. Everyone says that I am our point-guard, they are all wrong. Jimmy is our point-guard. He is so good at running our offense. By being as good as he is, it allows me to freelance and play on every part of the floor."

"We started a little slow and Maine South really came after us in the first half," D'Amico said. "We were not surprised by that. We have a great rivalry every year with them. We really got after them in the first few minutes of the second half. Jimmy really got us going with his defense and we took off from there. It's awesome to have Jimmy leading us.

"We just ran our basic offense in the second half and we have so much trust in each other, that we just all get on a roll."

Upstaged by the senior Murphy at the start of the third quarter, Lesmond delayed his performance until the fourth quarter.

With 5:33 left, Lesmond got the first of his two rim-wrecking slams, bury a three from Dee Road and then get hit with a technical foul for a little too-much celebration. "

Lesmond scored nine of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, including a second slam to finish off his performance.

"This was a good team win. We followed our game-plan to perfection after a slow start in the first half," Lesmond said. "We defended well tonight, we rebounded and ran our offense well after figuring out Maine South's defense in the second half."

For the up-start Hawks (14-11), 6-foot-five junior Marko Anderson just missed a double-double with ten points and nine rebounds. Repeatedly, Anderson challenged the Dons' stars, would have his shot blocked and grab the rebound and go attack them again.

Casey Clark and Nik Zelenovic each had 11 points to lead the Hawks, while Sean Gallery chipped in with seven points.

Notre Dame senior,Jason Bergstrom scored six points and hauled down three rebounds, while junior Jake DeFranza buried a long-range three point bomb off the bench for ND.

"We worked all week against Maine South's match-up zone," Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy said. "We came out in the first half very timid against it. Jimmy Murphy is the heart and soul of this team. He took over the game in the first three minutes of the third quarter, which ignited the big 8-0 run. I believe tonight was the greatest all-around game for Jimmy in his two years at ND."

"I am so proud of the way we played tonight," Maine South coach Tony Lavorato said. "What a first half for us and we missed three free throws in the last seconds or we would have been even closer. The first three minutes of the second half, as championship teams do, Notre Dame hit us with that big run and yet we still were in the game after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, their superior athletes took over."


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