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Notre Dame Overwhelmed

Division III-AA boys' basketball: Top-seeded Bishop Montgomery shakes off slow start, wins in rout, 74-45.


REDONDO BEACH — Early on, everything was going right for Notre Dame High. Bishop Montgomery missed its first eight shots and USC-bound twins Errick and Derrick Craven hardly looked invincible.

Then, like an avalanche sweeping the court, Bishop Montgomery finally got to deploy its full-court press and Notre Dame didn't know what to do. At one point, Notre Dame committed five consecutive turnovers.

In the end, top-seeded Bishop Montgomery proved too quick and too experienced in routing Notre Dame, 74-45, in a Southern Section Division III-AA semifinal at Redondo High.

Notre Dame (23-6) held a 5-0 lead, then went scoreless over the next eight minutes while Bishop Montgomery (25-2) scored 17 consecutive points. By halftime, Bishop Montgomery led, 37-16, despite an off night shooting.

"It really wasn't the press," Notre Dame's Cody Pearson said. "This was our first time being in this situation. It's a lot different than playing Crespi, Loyola or Chaminade. We were ready for it, but not quite. We knew they were quick, but not that quick."

Pearson, who scored 18 points and had nine rebounds, received little help on offense against Bishop Montgomery's man-to-man defense.

Bishop Montgomery is the defending state Division III champion and lost by only two points this season to City Section title favorite Westchester. But Notre Dame was capable of playing a more competitive game if players had not been so tentative on offense.

"It was a learning experience," Pearson said. "We wanted to prove we could play with anyone, but we came out too excited."

Errick Craven scored 20 points, Frederick Washington had 13 and Derrick Craven 11 for Bishop Montgomery, which forced 22 turnovers.

The defeat doesn't end Notre Dame's season. Notre Dame already has earned a berth to the state Division III playoffs with its quarterfinal victory over La Canada and will have a week to work on its weaknesses before entering the Southern Regionals.

"We'd make the same mistake in triplicate," Coach Rob DiMuro said. "Offensively, we didn't have a lot of confidence. They're a great team, but most of those turnovers were us playing poorly. We're disappointed. We have to take a lesson from this."

Mike Luderer, Notre Dame's second-leading scorer, had only two points through three quarters and finished with four points. Bishop Montgomery's quickness seemed to neutralize his offensive game.

Ruben Sanchez, Notre Dame's senior point guard, made several aggressive moves to the basket and should benefit from facing the kind of defensive pressure he hasn't seen this season.

Perhaps coaches in Division III should start searching for twins. The Collins twins led Harvard-Westlake to consecutive Division III state titles in 1996 and 1997.

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