OAKLAND — The Southern Rams fell to 3-2 after a pair of home losses in this past week’s high school boys’ basketball action.
The first loss came last Tuesday against a powerful Bishop Walsh Spartans team that Southern athletic director and assistant basketball coach Matt Redinger described as “…The best team that’s ever played in the 65 years of Ram Arena.”
The Rams’ second loss came this past Saturday to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (West Virginia). The visitors closed the game on an 11-1 run to escape with a 70-67 victory.
The Spartans came into a jam-packed Ram Arena and enjoyed a 63-29 win over Southern behind Callum Baker’s game-high 21 points (six threes).
Southern opened the game with an 8-4 lead and hung around before the Spartans used their size and speed advantage to close the quarter on a 16-0 run to lead 20-8.
The undefeated Spartans extended their lead to 34-18 heading into the halftime break before eventually leading 59-25 after three.
Baker was a force everywhere for the Spartans as he also recorded five rebounds, three assists and two steals to go with his 21 points. Jalen Miller and Anthoy Torelli added eight points apiece, and Yavuz Gultekin came down with a team-high eight rebounds.
BW finished shooting 12-of-25 from three-point range. Half of the team’s baskets came from beyond the arc.
“It was the first time we were playing in the area in front of a crowd like this,” said BW head coach Dan Prete. “The one thing that is interesting about our team, we feel like we have some talent, but the guys have never played together before.”
Tyler Rodeheaver led Southern with eight points, while Justin Shafer and Dalton Wiles logged six points apiece.
Notre Dame (West Virginia) at Southern
The Rams looked like they were going to score an impressive victory over the undefeated Fighting Irish as they led by seven and had the ball with just 2:40 to play, but uncharacteristic turnovers from the Rams and hot shooting from the visitors led to undefeated Notre Dame escaping with a 70-67 win.
Jaidyn West led the Irish with a game-high 30 points which included six three-pointers while teammate Gabe Zummo knocked in five from beyond the arc and added 22 points.
Notre Dame led 19-10 midway through the opening quarter after hitting four early threes. The Rams roared back, however, and trailed just 23-19 at the end of the period.
A beautiful drive from Wiles pulled the Rams within two at 27-25 with just over four minutes to play in the half, and then Southern kept it close for the rest of the half as it only trailed 34-32 at the break.
The back-and-forth third quarter featured several lead changes. The Rams led by as many as six with just over two minutes to play in the stanza after an “and-one” from Cory Ashby before eventually holding a 55-50 advantage at the end of the period when Rodeheaver hit a mid-range shot as the clock expired.
Southern began the fourth quarter with a slow start as its offense had several empty possessions in a row. Notre Dame eventually took a 59-57 lead with 5:30 to play after a three before the Rams went on a run.
Rodeheaver knocked down a deep corner three to put the Rams up 60-59 and followed that up with a deep two from the corner to put the hosts up by three. Back-to-back inside buckets from Ashby and Wiles made it 66-59, and following a defensive stop, the Rams were in prime position to put the game away.
However, two empty possessions led to back-to-back threes from Zummo which trimmed Southern’s lead to just 66-65 with 1:43 to go. A bucket and a free throw then put the Irish up 68-66.
Wiles was then sent to the line with the Rams down two, but he only made one of the free throws which kept Southern down by one. After a pair of free throws from the Irish, Rodeheaver missed the potential game-tying three from the corner as time expired.
Four Rams finished in double figures in the scoring column. Rodeheaver led the way with 19, Ashby had 12, and Brekale Washington and Wiles knocked in 10 apiece.
Southern (3-2) will host three Pennsylvania teams in the Team One Auto Snowball Classic which starts Thursday evening at Ram Arena. Uniontown will play Thomas Jefferson in the first game at 6 p.m. followed by the Rams’ matchup against Longwood.
The Rams’ junior varsity squad remained undefeated after taking down Bishop Walsh, 50-32, and Notre Dame, 56-23.
Southern’s JVs are currently on a 35-game winning streak which dates back to the 2016-17 season.