Second half surge propels Pios past West St. Mary
CROWLEY – It was Senior Night at Notre Dame Friday, but, in the end, it ended up being a pair of sophomores who stole the show.
Hunter Meche and Ethan Smith combined for 20 points in the second half, helping the Pios erase a four-point halftime deficit and rallying the hosts to a 57-55 District 6-3A victory over the West. St. Mary Wolf Pack at A.B. Dore Gym.
“I call them (Meche and Smith) our super sophomores and, tonight, they showed up,” said ND coach Donald Adams, whose team improved to 11-13 overall and 3-3 in league play with the victory. “They rebounded the ball well, got a few putbacks and they attacked the basket. That’s what we’re going to need out of those two down the stretch.”
Meche hit a free throw with six seconds remaining to give the Pios a two-point advantage, but his second shot was off the mark. Smith was there, however, and pulled down the rebound, getting the ball out to guard Jacob Leleux, who was able to run the remaining time off the clock.
“That was a big rebound by Ethan,” said Adams. “They (West St. Mary) had pulled down two rebounds before that and went coast-to-coast, so we needed that.”
Meche scored 14 points on the night, including five of the Pios’ final seven points in the fourth quarter. Smith scored seven in the third quarter and finished with 11.
Tre Milstead gave the Pios a big spark in the first half when he scored 17 of his game-high 20 points. The senior guard connected on three 3-pointers and had a dunk to keep the Pios close.
“Everybody comes to stop Tre,” said Adams. “But today, he had a real good start, which was a plus for us because he kept us in the ball game the whole time.”
The Wolf Pack jumped out to a slim 16-13 advantage in the first quarter and extended the lead to 32-28 at the break.
The Pios answered, however, in the third quarter and outscored the Wolf Pack 22-16.
“We executed really well, especially in the third quarter,” said Adams. “That was huge for us; we kind of went tit-for-tat with them, but we were able to take a two-point lead.”
Bryce Brandon knocked down one of his two 3-pointers in the third quarter. He finished the night with six points.
LeLeux and Tyler Simar also finished with three points.
The victory kept alive the Pios’ district and playoff hopes heading into their final four games. They sit two games behind league leader North Vermilion in the standings and one behind West St. Mary.
“This was a much-needed win,” said Adams. “Our goal was to make the playoffs and we still have a chance.”