Fighting Irish advance to championship final
Shammar Campbell was a one-man wrecking crew for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Friday night.
The 18-year-old, Grade 12B student was unstoppable at both ends of the floor on the glass, and also poured in a game-high 29 points as the Irish held off the Saint Paul Patriots 56-48 in a championship round semifinal game at the 65th Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament.
The defending champion Irish now face off versus the E.L. Crossley Cyclone at 7 p.m. Saturday at Niagara College looking for their 42nd tournament title.
Campbell loves being Notre Dame’s go-to man on offence.
“It was amazing for the team to have that support in me. I’m really grateful,” he said. “It was amazing. I love to be in games like that. I play hard and with a lot of energy.”
The Patriots tried everything they could to stop the 6-foot-6 centre, but were barely able to even slow him down.
“We had absolutely no answer for their big guy,” Saint Paul coach Frank Capretta said. “Nobody has a guy like that so you can’t scheme for it.
“I thought we did a really good job in the first quarter but then he kind of found some comfort inside. Maybe we didn’t go as hard at him as we did in the first quarter.”
Capretta said one of his staff said Campbell had four or five possessions where he had three offensive rebounds.
“That’s 15 offensive rebounds himself,” Capretta said in amazement.
Notre Dame coach Mark Gallagher has seen Campbell grow both on and off the court over the last couple of years.
“Shammar has come so far in the last two years, he’s worked so hard,” Gallagher said. “We’re so happy for him. He’s really grown up in the last 14 months from a personal standpoint and it’s great to see all the hard work pay off.
“It’s great for all the other guys to see how much hard work he’s put in the weight room and the gym and the results.”
Campbell’s presence under the basket gives Notre Dame’s shooters that much more room outside.
“We’ve still got guys who can shoot the ball,” Gallagher said. “We’re learning to go inside-out, as opposed to outside-in.
“We have historically lived by the jump shot and we’re learning the jump shot is even more open. If it goes in to Shammar and he makes a couple, then he kicks it out and we’re going to be even more wide open.”
The game was tied 39-39 after three quarters. The Irish got the lead up to 52-41 before John Graovaz hit a pair of quick threes to narrow the gap to 52-48 with just under a minute to go. The Irish then netted the final four points of the game to seal the deal.
“It think it was much better from the stands than it was from the bench,” Gallagher smiled. “It was a great game to win. They are so well coached and they play so hard. We knew we would have to do a lot well in order to win.”
Capretta admitted it was a tough game to lose.
“They had a lot to do with our frustration,” he said. “They took us out of what we were trying to do. We tried everything we had to get our shooters open. I thought when we got open, we hit our shots. We just had a difficult time getting open.”
IRISH 56 PATS 48
Mountainview Players of the Game: Notre Dame’s Shammar Campbell and Saint Paul’s John Graovaz.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Campbell 29; Brandon Markowski 12; David Jones 10; Andrew Zezela 5.
Saint Paul Patriots: Graovaz 21; Noah Jordan 8; Jerwyn Tutanes 8; Jason McLeod 7; Javier Lewis 2; Devon Schiller-Cleveland 2.
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