Notre Dame boys advance with win over WACO

The intensity was high and the Notre Dame boys basketball team trailed by six points at halftime.

But the Nikes overcame the deficit to dispatch a determined WACO team 54-40 Thursday night at home in Class 1A district semifinal action.

Notre Dame (16-6) advances to face Winfield-Mount Union in a district final Tuesday night at Mediapolis.

“Obviously, Winfield-Mount Union will be tough,” Notre Dame sophomore Shay Stephens said. “I think we can do it and hopefully we can go to state.”

Notre Dame found itself mired in an uncharacteristic shooting slump in the second quarter. Only Stephens was able to score a field goal during the period and the Nikes went nearly 10 minutes without a score.

WACO trailed 10-5 before Chase Waterhouse and Hunter Hughes scored. Then the Warriors got Notre Dame into foul trouble as they were able to get a steady diet of good looks down low.

WACO went to the free throw line 12 times during the period, converting on nine.

Then it became the “Shay Stephens Show.”

Stephens converted on a trey from the wing to give his team a lead they would not relinquish. Stephens finished with 24 points.

“We decided we needed to turn it around because we didn’t want this to be the seniors’ last game,” Stephens said.

Stephens, a 6-foot guard, collected a couple of free throws and then converted back-to-back triples from the wing.

“We couldn’t accept going down, playing the way we did in the second quarter,” Notre Dame coach Dan Kies said.

“We did a better job of pushing the ball and we needed to have our defense create offense. Shots were there in the second half because we moved better and finished better. We weren’t aggressive early.”

Now it was WACO that found themselves getting in foul trouble. The Nikes converted on 11-of-14 attempts from the free-throw line in the final period.

WACO closed its season at 19-5.

Hughes led WACO with 11 points.