Nursing a two-point halftime lead against Marathon, top-seeded Elmira Notre Dame tightened the vice defensively and dominated the third quarter in a 74-52 victory Friday night in a Section 4 Class C boys basketball quarterfinal game.
The Crusaders outscored ninth-seeded Marathon 23-5 in the third quarter to turn a 38-36 halftime lead into a 61-41 advantage.
“Honestly, I was disappointed with our defensive performance in the first half, so that’s what we talked about at halftime,” Notre Dame head coach Bill Hopkins said. “I and the players felt we could score. The question was can we defend? We had a basket or two early (in the third quarter) and that seemed to get us going.”
Senior guard Jonas McCaig scored 19 points and was one of six players to score at least eight points for Notre Dame (18-1). Darius Garvin had 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Derek Marshall added 14 points and four rebounds.
Notre Dame, ranked fourth in the state in Class C by the New York State Sportswriters Association, hosts fourth-seeded Watkins Glen at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals. The Senecas, who beat Notre Dame at home in last year’s sectional semifinals, were a 38-27 winner over Lansing on Friday.
“That’s all we’re trying to do is get a (win) and move on to the next round,” Hopkins said. “I’m looking forward to Tuesday a lot.”
Said Marshall: “I’m pretty happy with how it went, but there’s always room for improvement. Maybe get our rebounding better and a little better transition defense.”
Notre Dame led 18-6 midway through the first quarter before the Olympians (11-8) fought back within 26-19. Marathon scored the first eight points of the second quarter to take a brief lead before the Crusaders got back-to-back 3-pointers from McCaig and Tom Agan as part of an 8-0 run to go up 34-27.
Marathon outscored Notre Dame 9-4 the rest of the half, knocking down numerous open jumpers.
The Crusaders scored the first nine points of the second half, including a follow-up slam dunk by Garvin and a 3-pointer from Hunter Thomas, to go ahead 47-36.
A Marathon bucket was answered by an 11-0 surge that was capped by a Marshall 3-pointer and a bucket from Agan.
“The third quarter has always been the part of the game where we’re really good,” Marshall said. “It’s our highest-scoring quarter throughout the year.”
Zach Brandstadt had the only five points of the quarter for Marathon and finished with 14. Dan Lincoln led the Olympians with 15 points.
Marshall said the Crusaders took fewer chances defensively in the third quarter.
“Instead of going out and trapping, we kind of laid back and didn’t let them split us and focused more on the switches,” he said.
Marshall’s 14 points were a season high. He is generally the defensive leader for the Crusaders and one of the team’s top rebounders.
“He’s our Energizer Bunny,” Hopkins said. “He makes things happen. He’s not a prolific scorer, nor does he want to be, but he makes things happen defensively.”
Hopkins said the Crusaders fed off their quick offensive start in the second half on the defensive end.
“Sometimes at any level, whether it be pee wee basketball, high school basketball, college or the NBA, when you score you play harder defensively,” he said. “As a coach you’d love for your players to be consistent defensively throughout, but it doesn’t always work that way.”