Elmira Notre Dame’s 63-46 victory over Watkins Glen on Tuesday night in the Section 4 Class C boys basketball semifinals was all about the No. 3.
Hot shooting from beyond the 3-point line and a dominant start to the third quarter helped give the top-seeded Crusaders their third win in three games this season against the fourth-seeded Senecas.
“Our defense in the second half made a huge impact on the game, as well as our perimeter shooting,” Notre Dame coach Bill Hopkins said. “We made a lot of jump shots. Darius (Garvin) shot the ball well tonight and we had other people who made some plays and got some baskets.”
Garvin, a junior guard, scored 21 points to help send Notre Dame (19-1) into the Class C title game against second-seeded Moravia (19-1) at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton. Moravia beat Newfield, 50-39, in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Moravia has won three Class C titles in the last four years, with that streak interrupted only by Notre Dame’s championship in 2012.
Last year it was Watkins Glen that won on its home floor against Notre Dame to earn a berth in the sectional final. This time Notre Dame played its way into home-court advantage and Hopkins said the team got a boost from the large crowd, which included a big presence from Watkins Glen.
“Just knowing the way we ended our season last year was definitely a letdown,” Garvin said. “We wanted to come home and take care of business and get a win.”
Notre Dame nailed five of its nine 3-pointers in the second quarter to take a 31-25 halftime lead after leading 13-12 after the first quarter.
The Crusaders stepped on the gas to start the second half, using an 11-3 run to go up 42-28 with 5 minutes, 13 seconds left in the third quarter. Watkins Glen got no closer than 12 after that.
“I think that was probably a defining moment tonight, the first three minutes of the third quarter,” Hopkins said.
Four players scored buckets during the run, including 3-pointers from Garvin and Hunter Thomas and three points from Derek Marshall. Tom Agan and Thomas finished with 11 points each, and Nate Niles had nine points and six rebounds.
With Notre Dame’s offensive balance in terms of both talent and its inside-outside game, Watkins Glen coach John Fazzary said he was still contemplating what approach to take defensively as of Monday night.
“They made quite a few tough threes I thought with hands in their face,” Fazzary said. “They’re just tough to defend. They’ve got so many weapons. They’ve got shooters and they’ve got guys who can score inside. It’s a nightmare to try to guard them.”
Said Garvin: “We’re definitely hard to defend with a lot of guys being able to go inside and outside. We’ve got good post players and we have players like Jonas (McCaig) who can knock down the three at any given time.”
Notre Dame also was productive at the foul line, hitting 16 of 21 attempts.
Junior guard Luke Flahive led Watkins Glen (14-6) with 21 points and junior forward Colin Gates added 11, including nine in the first quarter. He fouled out in the third quarter and his absence was felt by the Senecas as they looked for second-half offense.
Garvin lost his temper early in the fourth quarter when he was fouled going toward the basket on a breakaway. He got in the face of a Watkins Glen player and was called for a technical foul.
“Definitely a frustration foul,” Garvin said. “I’ve got to keep my head. We’ll be all right.”
The Senecas’ other losses to Notre Dame came by scores of 73-51 on the road Dec. 17 and 46-37 at home Jan. 24.
“To lose four starters from last year and win 14 games and five of our six losses were to state-ranked teams. …. we had a pretty good year,” Fazzary said. “Just lost to a better team tonight.”