Visiting Notre Dame handled Tri-Valley League rival Rome Free Academy’s vaunted full-court pressure defense on Tuesday night en route to a 92-76 boys basketball victory.
The Jugglers broken open a 60-60 tie with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter and outscored the Black Knights 32-16 in the decisive final 11 minutes.
“We talked a lot about their pressure,” Notre Dame coach Ryan Goux said. “They’re a heck of a team. They’re good. We worked a lot on breaking their pressure in practice. I’m proud of the boys and our effort tonight.”
Senior guard Jaylen Warmack poured in a career-high 39 points to lead Notre Dame, which led 45-41 at halftime and 70-62 at the end of the third quarter. The 6-foot, 145-pound Warmack scored 20 in the first half and 19 in the second half. He made 15 field goals and nine free throws.
“He’s a leader. He played well,” said Goux of Warmack. “He stepped up when he had to. That’s what a senior does. That’s what a leader does.”
The Black Knights, who dropped to 4-2, had won three straight games since an 88-82 non-league loss to unbeaten and state-ranked Corcoran on Dec. 1 in the Peppino’s Invitational at Onondaga Community College.
“We did a poor job of preparing our kids for this game,” said RFA coach Nick Medicis of the coaching staff. “That’s totally on us. We thought we could do a better job on him (Warmack), and to his credit he came out and played a really big game.”
RFA hurt its cause with a poor shooting night. The Black Knights shot 16-for-40 from two-point range, 11-for-31 from three-point range and 11-for-21 from the foul line.
“We missed 23 layups and they made their shots,” Medicis said. “They’re a good team and they just shot the lights out tonight. I think we had them shooting 64 percent.”
Junior forward Damien Call led the Black Knights with a team-high 22 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds. Senior guard Camron Williams scored 20 points and had six rebounds. Junior Jordan Baldwin chipped in nine points and freshman Jeremiah Bartholomew dished out nine assists.
RFA defeated Notre Dame twice last season, 86-78 on the road and 95-91 at home. The Jugglers had won 11 straight in the series prior to that.
The two teams were tied at 19-19 at the end of the first quarter. Notre Dame outscored Rome 26-22 in the second quarter to take a 45-41 halftime lead. The Jugglers took over in the second half outscoring the Black Knights 47-35 including 22-14 in the fourth quarter.
The closest the Black Knights got in the final stanza was 70-67 with seven minutes remaining. They were outscored 22-9 the rest of the way.
“We were in spots to score and we didn’t put the ball in the basket,” Medicis said. “They had guys step up and make big shots. That was the difference. At the end of the day, we’ve got to make layups, plain and simple.”
Senior Treijen Garrett tallied 18 points and six rebounds for the Jugglers, who improved to 3-1. Senior Derek Lindsay had 15 rebounds and seven rebounds and 6-foot-8 senior Kelvin Ofori added a career-high 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
It was the second time in four days that Notre Dame played at RFA. The Jugglers defeated defending Section III Class AA champion Liverpool, 59-47, on Saturday in the Davidson Auto Group Invitational.
“Everyone stepped up,” Goux said. “We got production from all five starters and some good minutes from guys off the bench. It was a quality win over a quality team on the road. Rome is a good team and this is a tough place to play. That was a phenomenal performance. I didn’t think we were playing our best basketball in the first three games.”
After playing six games in 11 days, the Black Knights don’t play again until next Tuesday at New Hartford in a 7 p.m. start.
“If we’re as good as we think we are, we’ll bounce back,” Medicis added. “We just have to make some adjustments.”