Top-seeded Notre Dame falls; other regional results
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – After a program-changing regular season produced 20 wins, the Notre Dame Academy boys’ basketball players had plans for a deep playoff run.
However, Oshkosh North didn’t want any part of that.
Top-seeded Notre Dame got behind early by double digits and never led, as No. 4-seeded Oshkosh North pulled off a 68-62 victory in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 regional final Saturday, March 5.
“We were resilient,” first-year Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Bobinski said. “We fought back and battled hard. We had multiple looks to tie the game or maybe get ahead. We had some good looks, they just didn’t go in – that’s sports. That’s life. We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves about this. What these kids did for Notre Dame basketball this year was unbelievable.”
It was a tough moment for the Notre Dame players after a memorable regular season.
In his final game in a Tritons jersey, Chris Mitchell scored a game-high 32 points.
After he left the court for the last time and went down the stairs to the Notre Dame locker room, he came back up to walk back down the stairs with his teammate, Emmett Lawton.
Mitchell had his arm around the junior, consoling him after a tough loss.
“Guys need to stick together in times like this,” Mitchell said. “That’s my best friend, got to stick together. Everybody’s down, everybody’s hurting, but you’ve got to do your best to get through it.”
Oshkosh North’s Steven Clark stole the show for the first 23 minutes of the game.
He went off for 30 points during that stretch; the sophomore finished with 31 points.
Spartans teammate Xzavion Mitchell added 15 points.
“You’ve got to stop them both to win,” Chris Mitchell said. “We did do a good job on Mitchell. We threw multiple guys at Clark, but he had a career night. It was a good night for him and not for us.”
Oshkosh North (19-7) couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.
The Spartans led 16-4, as Clark had already put in 14 points.
Notre Dame (20-6) answered with a 16-5 run with Mitchell converting a three-point play.
The Spartans went into halftime up 30-27 and looking to expand their lead.
Oshkosh North took its biggest lead at 50-37, but Notre Dame wasn’t done.
Mitchell drained a 3-pointer to pull Notre Dame within two, 56-54, with 7:07 remaining.
The Tritons had an empty possession with a chance to tie or take the lead.
With Oshkosh North up 59-56, Lawton missed a 3-pointer for Notre Dame.
The Tritons could only get within three points the rest of the game, as Oshkosh North was 10-for-14 from the free throw line in the final 4:58.
“They did a good job running clock, and we fell a little short,” Chris Mitchell said. “We needed a couple plays to go our way we didn’t get.”
Keegan King and Luke Warden each scored 10 points for the Tritons.
Despite the season not ending the way the guys had hoped, the Notre Dame coaches and players said they were happy with what they accomplished.
“I’m grateful for everybody involved this season,” Mitchell said. “It was the most fun season of my life. Coach Brian Bobinski, I love him. I was happy he was here with us. … All 15 guys on varsity, I love everybody on this team. We were close together, and it was a good run. We set records. It was a good season – we didn’t get as far as we hoped.”
This year’s team tied for the most wins in a season in school history; it scored the most conference wins in school history; it had its best Fox River Classic Conference finish ever; and it locked down its first No. 1 seed since 2002.
“They were a selfless group who came here every day and liked being a part of the team, whatever their role was,” Bobinski said. “It allowed us to be successful every night. I’m grateful to them for giving us this season.”
Seniors Mitchell, King, Warden, Daniel Hornacek, Max Rader, Braedon Curtin and John Nolle all were a big part of the program.
“You talk to kids all the time about leaving the program better than you found it,” Bobinski said. “Their freshman year, they lost 20 games; their senior year, they won 20 games. Obviously, most of them weren’t on the varsity team as freshmen — Chris (Mitchell) was for a little bit. It’s hard to leave the program much better than you found it than lose 20 to win 20. That’s an impressive legacy. … I’m so happy for them and proud of them.”
The senior class is a tight group that will be remembered for a long time.
“We’ve been here for the turnaround,” Mitchell said. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s cool to see how much we’ve improved as a program over these years.”
Other Division 1 regional final results
No. 1 Menomonee Falls 95, No. 9 Bay Port 49
No. 2 De Pere 59, No. 10 Manitowoc Lincoln 54
To read the story for the Ashwaubenon/West De Pere game, CLICK HERE.
No. 5 Green Bay East 63, No. 4 Milwaukee King 63