Bishops Rally Past Irish
Donahue comes back from 19 down
MCMECHEN — It was a special night for Bishop Donahue. Not only were the Bishops playing against state-ranked Notre Dame, the school also inducted seven members in its athletics Hall of Fame. Before the start of the boys game, a small ceremony was held announcing all the new inductees.
The night became even more special, but the Bishops had to work hard for it. The Irish held a 19-point, 59-40 lead with 1:24 left to play in the third quarter. The Bishops, however, had other plans.
Koltin Kleeh was almost unstoppable in the second half, tallying five 3-pointers, Taylor Straughn was perfect at the free-throw line and the Bishops’ bench had quality minutes as it stormed back to shock the Irish, 73-72, on Saturday night.
“We came down at halftime and our kids decided to make a stand. What can I say?” Bishop Donahue (7-2) coach Tom Wise said. “That’s what it came down to. We played a lot harder. (Notre Dame) played almost perfect the first half. They were unconscious. And we thought it was impossible to play like that constantly. Then we had some guys really step up and make some good shots and we got a lot of stops.”
The Bishops scored the final four points of the third quarter that started with a Logan Ruckh 3-pointer. Kleeh then scored with four seconds to go in the third to put the score at 59-47. Daniel McGuire scored the first points of the fourth quarter to give the Irish a 14-point lead. But the Bishops went on an 8-0 run. A pair of Straughn free throws cut the deficit to single-digits, 61-52. But Kleeh’s first 3-pointer of the quarter got the Bishops within striking distance.
Notre Dame’s Noah Bohanna hit a pair of free throws to put the score at 63-55 with 3:41 left to go, but Kleeh went for the long ball again. He cashed in to put the score at 63-58. A little less than a minute later, the senior was at it again, hitting his third of the quarter getting the Bishops within two, 63-61 with 2:29 left.
“He’s playing with confidence,” Wise said. “He has that capability when he gets hot, he’s a streak shooter. He’s big enough to shot over top of people and make his way over top of people.”
Kleeh finished with a game-high 27-points.
“I was just feeling it,” Kleeh said. “I have to thank my teammates for giving me the ball when I’m open.”
As Kleeh was feeling it, it was clear that it was brushing off on his teammates. That’s when Ruckh saw his time to shine and make a big shot. With 2:11 left to go, he released the ball from behind the 3-point arc, hitting nothing but net, giving the Bishops a 64-63 lead.
“I caught the ball and I took the shot and it went in,” Ruckh said. “On the release, I knew it was going in. It just felt good.”
Straughn increased the Bishop lead on a pair of free throws with 1:55 left as the score read, 66-63. But four straight shots from the line gave the lead back to the Irish.
After exchanging leads, Straughn took matters into his own hands. He drove to the basket, put up a shot as a whistle was blown and saw the ball go in the hoop, giving him a chance for a conventional 3-point play. With 47 seconds left, Straughn made the free throw to make the score, 71-69.
Jared West tied it at 71-71 with 37 seconds to go.
The Bishops started to eat up some clock on the ensuing possession, but Straughn was fouled, giving him two more shots at the line. Just like his first 11, he saw them go through the hoop, giving the Bishops a 73-71 lead with 15 seconds left. Straughn tallied 23 points, including his 13 of 13 shots from the free throw line.
“The first game of the year, I shot horrible,” Straughn said about his free throws. “I think I shot 3-for-10 and actually ended up costing us that game. After practices I’ve been staying around and shooting more free throws. I shot well (Saturday).”
On the ensuing Irish possession, Bohanna was fouled and made his first free throw. He missed the second free throw and the ball went off a Bishop Donahue player and went out of bounds giving the Irish one final chance for a game-winning shot. They called a time out to set a play up. They inbounded the ball and went for the win, but the shot was unsuccessful.
Four Irish players scored in double figures as West led the way with 20 points while Bohanna and McGuire had 13 points. Robert Griffith tallied 12 points.
Ruckh had nine points for the Bishops while Anthony Robbins had four. Clinton Whitelatch came off the bench contributing four huge points.
“What a helluva comeback,” Wise said. “On Hall of Fame night here… That’s a classic. To see your best athletes ever in school history watch that, that’s fantastic.”