Boys Basketball: Paul Turner’s clutch free throws key St Joseph win2/11/12. Niles. Notre Dame's Joe Ferrici shoots in front of St. Joseph's Ronald Lewis. Notre Dame hosted St. Joseph at Notre Dame High School. | Tracy Allen~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2012 11:34PM
St. Joseph used an 11-0 run toward the end of the third quarter to build a slim lead Saturday night against Notre Dame, and then the Chargers sealed the game from the free-throw line in the final period.
Paul Turner hit all eight of his attempts from the charity-stripe, including six in the fourth quarter, and St. Joseph claimed a 66-60 nonconference victory in Niles.
“It is big (free throws), I learned that in my past few years,” Turner said. “Hitting free throws, it can lead up to a lot towards the fourth quarter.”
Turner, a sophomore, also knocked down two three-pointers and led all scorers with 24 points. His long-distance bucket with just over three minutes left gave the Chargers (15-8) a 58-50 lead, and then he scored the last six points for St. Joseph in the final 28 seconds.
The teams, former rivals in the East Suburban Catholic, traded baskets and the lead throughout the opening minutes of the second half.
The Dons took a 43-38 lead midway through the third period after a basket by Matt Mooney, but then went scoreless for over three minutes before a free-throw by Donte Stephenson cut the margin to 49-44 with four ticks left.
Mooney led Notre Dame with 13 points, while senior forward Joe Ferrici finished with 12 tallies. Greg Leifel provided an early spark for the Dons, drilling two of his three pointers in the opening stanza, allowing Notre Dame to take a 21-16 lead.
Duante Stephens totaled 11 points for the Dons (17-7), including back to back baskets in the final eight seconds of the contest. Notre Dame trimmed the lead to 58-56 on a basket by Mooney with just over a minute left, but could not get any closer.
After turning the ball over four times in the first half, Notre Dame had 11 miscues in the second half.
“We had far too many turnovers, and some of them were unforced,” Dons coach Tom Les said. “A couple at the end, they led to easy baskets for them. I thought they shot the ball pretty well, and some of them were contested. So to their credit, they shot the ball pretty well.”
Before Turner started to heat up for St. Joseph after the intermission, Reggie Johnson took control early. The senior guard buried two three-pointers in the first quarter and finished with 16 of his 20 points before the break.
“The coaches told us they (Notre Dame) were going to be keying on him (Johnson),” explained Turner. “So it freed me up a lot.”