Knights take Round 1
Peoria Notre Dame went on a 13-0 run to start the third quarter Friday night against Richwoods, but the Knights answered with an 8-0 run of their own to end the quarter. Then, Richwoods scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to reclaim the lead.
Richwoods beat the Irish, 49-45, at Peoria Notre Dame’s gym, which was packed beyond its rightful capacity.
So, what flipped the Knights’ switch?
Richwoods coach Mike Ellis said his guards stepped up on defense, but the real hero in the second half was 6’4” senior forward David Anderson.
Anderson was given the insurmountable assignment of guarding Notre Dame’s 6’8” junior Max Bielfeldt, who scored eight points in that 13-0 third-quarter run. Even though Bielfeldt ended up with 24 points and 14 rebounds, Ellis said Anderson did a great job defending the all-stater.
“You saw what happened when we had David on the bench to start the third quarter. Bielfeldt had his way with us. But, when David came back into the game, things turned our way,” Ellis said. “David did a great job stepping up when we needed him late in the game.”
Anderson also scored six points in the second half.
“I just tried to prevent him (Bielfeldt) from getting anything easy. You can’t let him get a direct pass, or else he’ll make a move and score an easy basket,” Anderson said. “Offensively, I just tried to hit shots if I was open. I was glad I could contribute on both ends.”
The game was tied, 40-40, with 4:09 left when Knights forward T.J. Cole hit a three-pointer.
Bielfeldt answered with a four-foot jump shot off the glass to make it a 43-42 game.
With 1:35 to go, Notre Dame senior guard Tyler Les hit a three-pointer to give to Irish the lead, 45-43.
Richwoods senior guard Mason Alwan then drove the lane and hit a pull-up jumper to tie the game at 45-45.
“That was a huge play,” Ellis said. “We came right back and answered that three from Les.”
Richwoods senior guard Tylon Deal stole the ball and was fouled with 53 seconds left. He made the front end of the one-and-one to give Richwoods a 46-45 lead.
After an Anderson steal, Richwoods senior forward Tony Frazier was fouled. He made both free throws to make it a 48-45 game with 33 seconds left.
“Tony made some big free throws down the stretch,” Ellis said. “He showed a lot of poise and confidence.”
Notre Dame called a timeout with 11 seconds left after not getting a look at a good shot.
After the timeout, Bielfeldt missed a three-point shot.
“That was a designed play,” Notre Dame coach Eddie Mathews said. “We felt that, if the defense pulled off Max, he could get a good look.”
Notre Dame got the rebound, but did not get another shot off before calling another timeout with five seconds left.
Les, Notre Dame’s top three-point shooter, did not get a shot in the final 10 seconds.
“We put a man on Les all the time,” Ellis said. “Up three points, we were willing to give up a two-point shot, but we did not want to allow Les to get a three-pointer.”
Deal dove for a loose ball in the corner and forced a jump ball call, which gave the ball back to Richwoods.
Bielfeldt fouled Frazier with :01.8 left. Frazier made one of two free throws to seal the victory.
“Their guards turned it up in the second half. You have to give them credit,” Mathews said. “I’m not happy that we lost, but I’m glad we were in this type of game. We’ll learn a lot about ourselves and we’ll correct some things.”
An hour before game time, the Notre Dame parking lot was already full. Many people parked at businesses across Sheridan and Glen and walked to the school in the bitter cold.
Inside the gym, every seat and standing area in the entrance tunnels were filled. Some fans left because their was no more room.
• Richwoods lost, 53-42, at home to Springfield Saturday. The Knights (12-2) entered the game ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press Class 3A poll. Richwoods plays Peoria Central at home at 7:30 p.m. Friday
• The Irish (10-5) beat Chicago Leo, 69-61, in overtime Saturday at the Springfield Shootout. Notre Dame plays at Woodruff at 7:30 p.m. Friday.