CLARKSBURG — After trailing for the whole third quarter, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, it seemed, had found their footing.
An 8-0 run, started by a Jaidyn West 3 late in the previous period and continued by a Gabe Zummo 3 and a Nate Helm layup, had the Irish ahead of the Southern Garrett Rams, 52-47, with 6:44 left in front of a packed house at Angelo Basile Court.
But then ND scored only four points the rest of the way, suffering just their second loss of the season and first at home, 66-56, to drop to 12-2 on the year.
“I give a lot of credit to (Southern). They played very good team defense on us,” Notre Dame coach Jarrod West said. “They didn’t allow us to get comfortable in any of our sets. I think we rushed a few shots. But more importantly, we didn’t get stops.”
Southern, a major contender for the Maryland 1A title, moved to 11-2 and avenged a 70-67 loss at Ram Arena on Dec. 22.
Zummo made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Notre Dame, while West added 16 points.
Tyler Rodeheaver scored 16 for Southern and Dalton Wiles and Cory Ashby added 11 apiece.
Southern scored the game’s first six points before two Elijah Goodman free throws and a Nate Helm lay-in cut the deficit to two.
Notre Dame tied the score at 8 on two West free throws; after ties at 10 and 12, the Irish went ahead for the first time, 14-12, on Elias Gordon’s putback with 54.9 seconds left in the quarter.
Southern closed on a 7-2 run, including a 3-point play by Rodeheaver, to lead 19-16 after one period.
Up 22-20, a Wiles 3 started a 7-0 Ram run.
Down 33-24, Notre Dame used a Zummo 3 and two Tyler Hardesty free throws to close within four, but Rodeheaver’s 3-ball capped the half, giving the Rams a 36-29 advantage.
Notre Dame, though, started the half on a 9-2 run as West converted an old-fashioned 3-point play and Zummo hit back-to-back triples to tie the game at 38.
West’s 3 to start the Irish’s run tied the game at 47 after three quarters.
But Southern re-took the lead at 53-52 with 4:40 left on Ashby’s layup and extended it on back-to-back Wiles baskets.
Hardesty’s layup made it a one-possession game again at 57-54 with 1:50 left, but Bryson Wilt canned a jumper and Justin Shafer and Rodeheaver both knocked down pairs of free throws to stretch the lead to nine.
“(Scoring) nine points in the fourth quarter is not like us,” coach West said. “To Southern’s credit, their kids competed. They beat us on the glass. We’ve just got to execute better down the stretch, which we have done every game up to this point.”
Notre Dame was playing without the injured Joel Maurer, while Southern lost big man Brekale Washington late in the first quarter.
Notre Dame heads to Tygarts Valley on Tuesday.
Sports editor Michael Minnich can be reached at 304-626-1441, by e-mail at email@example.com, or on Twitter @michaelminnich.