By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
Revenge was sweet for the New London boys on Tuesday night. The Tigers knocked out Notre Dame 55-49 in their district semifinal in Mt. Pleasant, getting payback for a 10-point loss at home the last time the two teams met.
Notre Dame never led in the game, but they kept it close all night long. The Tigers used strong defense and a boat-load of offensive rebounds to advance on in one of the toughest district semifinal games in the class.
The first quarter was a defensive struggle for both sides. The Tigers were unable to get shots to fall from the half-court set, but Notre Dame?s offense couldn?t get going either. New London led 7-4 after one quarter.
The Tigers were able to hold the lead for most of the second quarter. Notre Dame was able to knot the game up at 19-19 late in the quarter, but a late Tiger basket gave New London a 21-19 lead at the break.
New London lived on the offensive glass in the third quarter. While the Tigers were still on a cold streak shooting wise, they kept earning second chances with offensive rebounds, especially by sophomore post Grant Swanson.
?That was probably his most solid game of the year,? Coach Bryant Porter said after the game. ?Even when he wasn?t getting rebounds, he was getting touches and they were going to our guys. I?ll take that.?
Swanson scored six points in the third quarter and New London led by four, 37-33, after three quarters.
The Nikes kept coming in the fourth quarter. Jeff Tjaden hit a couple of three-pointers in the final 1:15 to cut the Tiger lead to three. New London led 52-49 with just 38 seconds on the clock.
New London beat the Nikes deep on the ensuing inbounds pass. Alex Dentlinger broke free up the court and Isaac McSorley hit him with a strike just past the halfcourt line. Dentlinger iced the game with the easy layup. Swanson added a free throw in the final ticks and the Tigers were on to the next round.
Coach Porter recalled the final inbounds play after the game, saying he was surprised at how open Dentlinger wound up.
?It?s just really to clear the (defender) out, but you never think he?s going to bite on it,? Porter said. ?(McSorley) has got a gun on him so I?m going to let him throw it. We just started working on that this week.?
Keontae Luckett was solid all night for New London. The junior point guard scored 15 points to lead the team. Mason Porter finished with 12, five of which came in the fourth quarter, and Swanson had 10 to give the Tigers three double-digit scorers.
McSorley finished the night with eight points. Dentlinger had five. Tyler Henecke and Koby McBeth scored two points apiece and Jalen Birdsell finished with one.
Iowa Mennonite won the opening game 52-38 over Highland. IMS and New London will play in the district final on Thursday, February 22, at 7 p.m., in Mediapolis. The winner will face either Lynville-Sully, Sigourney, Montezuma or Keota in the substate final on Saturday, February 24, in Oskaloosa.