The Notre Dame boys basketball team clamped down defensively in the fourth quarter and completed a regular-season sweep of Watkins Glen on Friday night, 46-37, to move within one win of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference South Large School title.
The Crusaders limited Watkins Glen to six points in the fourth quarter after trailing 31-29 and improved to 13-1 overall and 11-0 in the IAC. Notre Dame can wrap up the division with a win at home Jan. 31 against Newark Valley.
Darius Garvin led Notre Dame with 19 points, Tom Agan scored nine points and Nate Niles scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter.
“We haven’t played many close games this year,” Notre Dame coach Bill Hopkins said. “I’m really happy with the way we handled things down the stretch. We responded well and I’m proud of the kids.”
Luke Flahive led the Senecas (12-3, 9-2) with 16 points. He scored eight points in the second quarter and eight more in the third, hitting four 3-pointers.
Defending division and overall IAC Large School champion Watkins Glen struggled with its shooting over the final eight minutes after battling back from a 21-15 halftime deficit. The Senecas made three field goals in the fourth quarter and went 0-for-5 at the foul line.
“Our kids played hard. It was a great effort,” Watkins Glen coach John Fazzary said. “Our offensive rebounding hurt us in the last quarter. We started relying on (3-point shooting) and it didn’t help us. We gave ourselves a chance to win it, but we couldn’t get it done in the fourth quarter.”
Niles had been coming off the bench in recent games, but he started Friday.
“Tonight I decided to go a little bit bigger,” Hopkins said. “Nate did a great job. Tonight Nate answered the bell.”
Defense dominated early, with Watkins Glen’s Keith Rekczis scoring the game’s first point on a free throw with 5:39 left in the opening quarter.
Notre Dame didn’t break through until Agan’s bucket with 3:40 left in the quarter. Jonas McCaig hit one of his two 3-pointers with 35 seconds left to give the Crusaders a 7-5 lead after one quarter.
Garvin scored 10 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining before halftime. He also made a wild hook shot that banked in as he anticipated a foul call that didn’t come.
In the teams’ first meeting, Notre Dame beat the Senecas, 73-51, on Dec. 17 at home.
Note: Numerous Watkins Glen fans were decked out in green shirts to honor former classmate Devon Shaw, who died in of cancer at age 18 in July, less than a month after he graduated.