UTICA – They were classmates for a few years and friends for even longer. Now, they occupy a spot next to each other on a banner of Utica-Notre Dame’s best basketball players.
Notre Dame senior Jaylen Warmack hammered home 28 points for the Jugglers on Friday night, giving him 1,069 in his career and putting him 10th all-time behind former Notre Dame stare Jerome Brabham on the school’s points list. Unfortunately, it came in a losing effort at Michael J. Walsh Gymnasium, as Tommy Morreale and Zach Britt powered the Warriors back from a 12-3 Notre Dame run to take the 71-68 win, The duo had 24 and 17 points, respectively, in the win.
“I’m sure Jerome will be happy for him,” Notre Dame head coach Ryan Goux said. “Records were made to be broken, but if you asked them, they would rather win the game than go for the milestone. I’m sure it’s the last thing on his mind in tough games like this. ”
It sure looked like Warmack was going to hit that milestone rather early, as the senior accounted for half of his team’s first ten points, From there, it was a tale of two schemes: Notre Dame’s perimeter shooting versus Whitesboro’s grind-it-out style under the rim. For a while, it seemed to be quite even, as Morreale and senior Avery Cook grabbed the lion’s share of the rebounds, Meanwhile, senior Treijen Garrett hit a big three-pointer that got the crowd on their feet nearing the end of the first quarter, giving the Jugglers the lead near the end of the first quarter. One last jumper by Warmack at the buzzer fell as time ran out, giving Notre Dame a 20-16 lead after one period.
“We told them before the game, this is going to be a game of runs,” Whitesboro head coach Garrett Herthum said. “We had to be able to put together a complete game.”
“We got a little lackadaisical, especially in the third quarter,” Morreale said. “but it’s a game of runs. We just kept our composure, stock to our plan and we won thegame.”
The Warriors were able to put a run together to start the second period, as their ground-and-pound offense below the rim allowed them to pull within one point early on. However, the Jugglers got into foul trouble early in the period,which allowed Whitesboro to keep themselves in the game from the free-throw line. As a matter of fact, the Warriors out shot the Jugglers 6-1 in the half, which allowed them to keep the Jugglers close throughout the second quarter, with neither team managing to keep more than a two-point lead. When the buzzer sounded to end the first half, the Warriors were able to go into the locker room with a 32-30 lead.
That lead would extend almost immediately out of the locker room, as Morreale grabbed a quick layup to take the lead to four. The Jugglers would not say die, however, ast wo big long-distance shots by senior Treijen Garrett kept it close through most of the third quarter. With about five minutes left, though, Warmack would move up the all-time points list. He knocked down two free throws to pass Steve Babiarz on the all-time points list, much to the delight of the home crowd. Those free throws also tied the game at 49,
Unfortunately for the Jugglers, that was as close as they would get in the period. Baskets from seniors Collin McAndrew and Lucas Pasquarelli would help the Warriors grab another lead, going as high as 11 points late into the quarter. That lead would be brought back just slightly at the end of the quarter, giving the Warriors a 58-50 lead.
“We talked to them about continuing the fight,” Goux said of his message at the break. “This was a game where we had to shut them down.”
The Jugglers certainly did that to start the final period, going on a 10-3 run in the first few minutes to cut the lead to just one early on. Warmack would put the Jugglers on his back after that, getting six of his 11 points from the free-throw line to continue the see-saw affair late into the game.
“They got hot,” Herthum said simply. “They’re a good team…we had opportunities, but we just didn’t make them, We just needed to make it when it counts.”
“We always try to keep our focus on the free-throw line,” Morreale said of the last few minutes of play. “That’s what mattered in the end. Going into this game, we knew it was going to be a big game. We just executed well as a team.”That was certainly true in the last minute, as the Warriors grabbed five straight points and tied it up with a basket-and-foul by junior Zach Britt. Morreale would make free throws of his own to give Whitesboro a three-point lead, one they would never give up. They did have to hold their breath over the last eight seconds, as the Jugglers had one last chance with just eight seconds left. Coming out of the timeout, Notre Dame had two good chances by Garrett to end the game. Unfortunately, both of them fell short, and Whitesboro was able to escape Walsh Gymnasium with a huge Tri-Valley League victory.
“The game was won at the free-throw line tonight,” Goux said. “We’ll file it down and learn from it. It’s a 20-game season, it’s a process.”
The Jugglers have no time to stew over the loss to their cross-town rival, as they have an early test against the defending Class AA State Champion in Liverpool on Saturday. Goux stressed the need to put the game behind them. “They’re a tough team…they’re the state champs. I told them to feel sorry for yourself tonight then go to work tomorrow, because Liverpool isn’t going to feel sorry for you.”
On the other side of the court, it doesn’t get any easier for Whitesboro either, as they’ll travel to another rivalry game on Tuesday against the New Hartford Spartans. For Morreale and Herthum, while this game meant a whole lot to them, Tuesday’s game at New Hartford High School means just that much more.
“We were going to win on defense tonight, [but] there has to be no letdown,” Herthum said. “If we don’t play well on Tuesday, this win tonight means nothing. We have to go back to work on Monday.”
“Just as this week, we’re going to go to work, make a game plan on Sunday,” Morreale said. “We just keep our composure, and good things will happen.”
Whitesboro Warriors 71, Notre Dame Jugglers 68
Warriors 16 16 26 13 71
Jugglers 20 10 20 18 68
Whitesboro Warriors (71)
Joey Panuccio 2 2-2 7, Zach Britt 64-6 17, Collin McAndrew 2 1-2 5, Tommy Morreale 9 6-9 24, Lucas Pasquarelli 3 0-0 9, Avery Cook 3 3-8 9. Totals: 25 16-27 71.
Notre Dame Jugglers (68)
Jaylen Warmack 8 11-14 28, Patrick Espinosa 1 0-0 3, Treijen Garrett 6 3-4 18, Derek Lindsay 4 1-2 9, Matt Quinn 2 0-0 6, Kelvin Ofari 2 0-0 4. Totals: 21 15-20 68.
Halftime: Whitesboro 32, Notre Dame 30.
Three-point Field Goals: Notre Dame7 (Garrett 3, Matt Quinn 2, Warmack, Espinosa), Whitesboro 5 (Pasquarelli 3, Britt, Panuccio).Total Fouls: Whitesboro 16, Notre Dame 20.
Whitesboro 31 21 16 19 87
Notre Dame 8 12 6 0 26