Notre Dame holds off Deerfield to claim regional crown

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Mooney for 2

Joe Mooney, going up for two against Libertyville earlier in the week, scored the go-ahead basket late in the game of the Dons’ 49-47 win over Deerfield to win the Notre Dame regional championship Friday night.

Updated: 7:14 pm, Sat Mar 7, 2015.

Ammar Becar and Joe Mooney have been Notre Dame’s go-to scorers all season, but in recent weeks, a third offensive option has come to the forefront for the 2014-15 ESCC champions.

Junior 6-7 forward Anthony D’Avanzo scored 17 points Friday night and sank two clutch free throws with three seconds to go to help the fourth-seeded Dons hold off sixth-seeded Deerfield and win their own regional’s championship, 49-47.

The 26-4 Dons face off against No. 1 seed Stevenson, ranked second in the AP weekly state basketball Class 4A poll, in the semifinals of the Waukegan sectional on Tuesday night.

Going into the contest, coach Tom Les said the Dons need everyone to have a big game in order to give them a chance to win.

“We’ve played a lot of big games (this year) so it’s nothing new to us,” he said. “We have to play a really good game, no question about that. We’ve done a good job defensively and that’s kept us in games and if you have a good defense that gives you a chance.”

Deerfield was able to hold Mooney scoreless until the fourth period, but Mooney, who scored four points, got two of those with 54 seconds to go when he drove in to break a 45-45 tie and give Notre Dame the lead. Deerfield missed an attempt to tie the game, and D’Avanzo was fouled after grabbing the rebound—one of eight boards for him on the night.

He put in the free throws for a 49-45 lead. Becar topped the Dons and all scorers with 20 points.

“In the last five to six weeks, he’s (D’Avanzo) made some great strides and that’s due to his work ethic,” Les said.

Les said it was nice to see the Dons take the next step and win a regional after losing in a regional title game to Evanston last year. The Wildkits play No. 2-seeded Lake Forest at Waukegan on Wednesday night.

“We had a young team last year and learned a lot throughout the entire season,” he said. “This year we’ve grown quite a bit. I’m happy with the progress of my team.”

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