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High School Boys Basketball: Notre Dame places in coveted Class 4 Final Four

The final fours in both Class 4 and 5 for basketball have officially been canceled due to the concern regarding the spread of COVID-19, but nothing can take away the fact the Cape Notre Dame boys basketball team finished this season as one of the top four teams in Class 4.

The Bulldogs were able to defeat Westminster Christian Academy 59-53 in the quarterfinal round on Saturday, a game Notre Dame has not won since 2015 in head coach Paul Unterreiner’s first year at the helm.

“We were able to set up in our press, and our press caused them some issues,” Coach Unterreiner said. “Whenever [Westminster] went on a run, we struggled to score the ball, so we couldn’t get setup in our press. But I thought our guys played with an energy level they haven’t played with all season. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort and unity they played with.”

As a team, Notre Dame shot 51.2% from the field as seniors Tyler Landewee, Justice Thoma and junior Caleb LeGrand combined for a total of 38 points. Landewee produced a team-high 16 points and four assists on top of seven deflections and two steals defensively.

In Thoma’s final game with Notre Dame, he paced Landewee with 11 points of his own and also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals. LeGrand also scored 11 and had a team-high six boards with two assists and one of his team’s 13 steals.

“When all three of them are chipping in on the offensive end, we’re usually pretty tough to beat,” Unterreiner said. “We went nine deep [this season], and all nine of those guys did at least something to contribute to that win. So did our six guys on the bench that didn’t get in that game.”

Coming behind these Bulldogs in scoring was junior Hayden Jansen, who finished with nine points and hit Notre Dame’s lone 3-pointer of the contest. On March 6, Jansen hit three triples against Cape Central to help the Bulldogs win their first Class 4 District 1 Championship in five years.

One of Notre Dame’s unsung heroes was junior Jake Young, who led the charge defensively as he came away with a team-high four steals. Young only scored four points, but he also finished with three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The Bulldogs were able to outscore Westminster 24-13 in points off turnovers as Notre Dame forced the opposition to make 22 changes in possession. Notre Dame only had a total of 14 turnovers.

This win places Notre Dame in the Class 4 Final Four for the 10th time in school history. However, this will be the first time Notre Dame doesn’t get to play.

“My heart breaks for these seniors,” Unterreiner said. “It really does because there will be people who say it’s just a game. I reinforced to them they can go ahead and ignore what people are saying because it is OK if a high school basketball game is really important to them.

“Since they could dream, they’ve dreamed of this moment. Someday their priorities will change, but that day doesn’t have to be now. I gave them permission to hurt.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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