BATAVIA — Notre Dame was in serious danger of dropping its third straight game on Thursday night when the Fighting Irish hosted Wheatland-Chili and the Wildcats’ dynamic senior guard Elijah Gissendanner more than ready to send them packing.
But with a strong defensive effort in the second half and another big game from Gabe Macdonald, the Fighting Irish survived.
Macdonald scored a team-high 24 points, including 13 in the third quarter after missing the second quarter with foul trouble, and Notre Dame used a 15-7 fourth quarter to sneak away with a 59-53 victory.
The win overcame a monster night from Gissendanner, who hit five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 31 points, including 20 in the first half as W-C led by four at the break. Gissendanner added 12 rebounds as the Wildcats dropped to 0-3.
Macdonald added six rebounds for Notre Dame, which also got 11 points, four assists and three rebounds from Spencer Misiti and nine points, seven rebounds and three assists from Zach Cocking.
Big man Keith Szczepanski had a solid night as he just missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds to go with a pair of blocks.
Szczepanski came through with a big bucket with under a minute remaining and Notre Dame leading by five. Off of a missed one-and-one, Macdonald came away with a huge offensive rebound and dished to Szczepanski, who finished underneath to all but put the game away.
Early on, though, it was all Gissendanner.
With the Wildcats trailing by one midway through the first, his runner in the lane started them on a quick 8-2 spurt as W-C took a 16-11 lead after triples from Gissendanner and Aaron Lund.
Lund would finish the night with 12 points.
A pair of free throws from Szczepanski and a jumper from Macdonald had Notre Dame within one at 16-15 after the first frame.
Gissendanner then scored eight straight points in the first 1:10 of the second quarter as W-C built a 23-15 lead before the Fighting Irish got hot.
Misiti and Cocking each hit a pair of 3-pointers over the next 2:15 during a 12-0 Notre Dame run that suddenly had the Irish up 27-23.
But the Wildcats weren’t going to go away as a putback from freshman Brendan Moore started them on an 8-2 spurt to end the half, capped with a Gissendanner jumper at the buzzer to make it 33-29.
The W-C lead would get to five early in the third on a Jordan Richards triple before the Fighting Irish would fight back to tie it twice — first at 40-40 midway through after four straight points from Macdonald and again at 44 after a steal and layup from Macdonald.
The Wildcats led 46-44 before Notre Dame took control midway through the fourth.
After a Gissendanner drive made it 50-50 with four minutes left, the Fighting Irish held the Wildcats to just three points — a made triple from Gissendanner with just 16.5 seconds remaining — the rest of the game; a Macdonald 3-point play with 3:39 gave Notre Dame the lead for good and Misiti iced it with a pair of free throws with 13.4 left.
Notre Dame will have to come right back tonight with a tough road contest at Prattsburgh, while Wheatland-Chili will host Lyndonville on Monday.
ELBA 62, KENDALL 51
The Lancers jumped out to a 19-4 lead and would eventually have to hold off the pesky Eagles.
Kendall clawed to within eight at halftime but Jon Boyce scored eight of his team-high 22 points during a strong start to the third quarter to give Elba a double-digit lead that it would hold the rest of the way. Boyce added 15 rebounds for another big double-double for the Lancers.
Collin O’Halloran added 13 points and Andrew Hare chipped in with 10 for Elba, which is 4-0 for the third time in the last four seasons.
Nathan Warters had a game-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds in the losing effort for Kendall (1-4), while John Rath added 15 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
PEMBROKE 51, BYRON-BERGEN 46
Noah Godzala led all scorers with 17 points and the Dragons outscored the Bees 18-8 in the fourth quarter to pull out the tight win.
“Tonight was a really tough and physical basketball game,” Pembroke head coach Matt Shay said. “Byron-Bergen came in well-prepared and played really tough even though they were battling some injuries.”
Jordon Ludwig had a solid night with 12 points and five assists and Patrick Wolford grabbed seven rebounds for Pembroke (2-2).
Joshua Hohn and Lucas Stucchio each had 11 points for Byron-Bergen (1-5).
ATTICA 67, HOLLEY 43
Devon Henderson had a big night with 17 points, eight rebounds and a pair of steals as the Blue Devils jumped out to a 41-21 halftime lead and cruised from there.
“We played well at times tonight and struggled at times tonight,” Attica head coach Rob Crowley said. “We are still learning and working on handling the ups and downs of a basketball game. Holley played tough tonight but we are certainly happy to come away with the win.”
Tyler Meyer added 17 points and five assists and Dawson Nelson grabbed 14 rebounds to go with five assists as Attica hosted its Teacher Appreciation Night.
“The kids, the teachers and community seemed to respond well to it,” Crowley said. “It is great to be able to tie together interscholastic athletics.”
Matt Skehan had 12 points and Kohl Morgan finished with 10 for Holley.
ALEXANDER 51, OAKFIELD-ALABAMA 45
Ryan Davis scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 20 rebounds and the Trojans were able to outlast the Hornets in a tough GR game.
Chris McClinic added 12 points and Tyrone Woods netted 11 for Alexander (4-1), which led 30-23 at halftime.
Travis Wiedrich led the way for O-A (2-3) with 17 points, while Aiden Johnston finished with 10 points and seven boards.
Joey Burdick added nine points, Nick Wissenger had 10 rebounds and Ty Mott grabbed eight caroms in the losing effort.
ALBION 54, ROY-HART 40
Deyonci Farley finished with a game-high 22 points as the Purple Eagles moved to 2-2.
Bryce Pritchard added nine points and Xavier Cornick netted eight for Albion, which used a 16-5 second quarter to break it open.
Charlie Bruning had 18 points and Charlie Brigham finished with 13 for Roy-Hart.
The “fork” ratings are based primarily on food quality and preparation, with service and atmosphere factored into the final decision. Reviews are based on one unsolicited, unannounced visit to the restaurant.