By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Going into its big Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) showdown with De Pere on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Notre Dame Academy boys’ basketball got a big nonconference victory to end 2022.
Behind 27 points from senior Emmett Lawton, the Tritons posted a 66-59 win over Edgewood on Thursday at Notre Dame Academy.
“It’s always nice to win against a good opponent — Edgewood is athletic and has some nice shooters,” Notre Dame coach Brian Bobinski said. “I didn’t think it was our best effort on either end of the floor — we were inconsistent — but we hadn’t played a game (since Dec. 16) because of (cancellations due to) the weather.”
After the Tritons (4-2) bolted out to a 16-2 lead eight minutes into the game, the Crusaders (5-4) scored 10 straight to make it 16-12.
Edgewood grabbed its first lead of the game, 22-21, with less than two minutes remaining before halftime.
Ending the half on a 25-9 spurt overall, the Crusaders led 27-25 at the break.
“Give Edgewood credit,” Bobinski said. “They came back strong after we jumped out to a nice lead.”
Notre Dame opened the second 18 minutes of play with a 10-2 surge, but the six-point lead quickly evaporated behind nine points from Edgewood’s Hunter Dobrinsky.
With the Tritons leading 44-42, sophomore Andrew Rader scored six of the next 11 points for Notre Dame to bump the lead to 55-46.
After suffering a foot injury this past June, the 6-foot-9 Rader was playing in only his second game this season.
“I started with the (Green Bay) Preble game (on Dec. 16),” Rader said. “I had a few minutes in that game, but this week I was going 100%. Six months off is a lot of time, especially when you can’t run, so I have to get back into the game — both mentally and physically.”
Bobinski said Rader will get much better as the season progresses.
“He only started three or four weeks ago with practice,” he said. “He’s a bit rusty, but we knew that coming into the season. He’s still adjusting to the speed of the varsity game, but he’s got good touch around the rim and is a good shooter.”
Behind the hot shooting of Dobrinsky and Lucas Shulla-Cosa, the Crusaders got within 60-57 with 49 seconds remaining, but the Tritons sealed the game from the free-throw line.
Notre Dame’s final nine points of the night came from the charity stripe — three from Adam Guyette and six from Lawton.
“We were trying not to shoot until (Edgewood) fouled us,” Bobinski said. “We’ve been working hard on closing games out — we had veteran guys who handled the ball (last season) late in the game, but now they’re gone. It was great to see us hit those free throws at the end.”
After scoring only six points in the first half, Lawton, a second-team FRCC pick a season ago, erupted for 21 after the break.
“In the first half, we worked on getting layups,” Lawton said. “My shots weren’t falling, but my teammates picked up the load.”
Fellow senior Ethan Wall-Atim scored nine of his 10 points in the first half.
Lawton said he took advantage of Edgewood’s defense in the second half.
“I’m not sure if the (Edgewood) defenders were tired or what, but when I took my first dribble into the gap, the help man wouldn’t come to double me,” he said. “I was able to get to the rim and then hit my free throws down the stretch.”
Unlike last season, Bobinski said Lawton, who is averaging 23.7 points per game, is the focus of opposing teams.
“Last year, we had other guys who might have been the focus,” he said. “They scored in the mid-teens, so maybe Emmett wasn’t the focus from defenses. Emmett is really good, but he’s struggling a bit with learning how to be ‘the guy.’ It’s probably going to happen all season, so for him, he’s working on being patient. When we move the ball and he’s patient, he gets much better looks. I thought he did an excellent job in the second half and didn’t settle for any bad shots.”
By Rich Palzewic