Jamal Worthington leads Bledsoe County past Notre Dame Irish

Jamal Worthington leads Bledsoe County past Notre Dame Irish

December 5th, 2012 by Gene Henley in Sportspreps

Notre Dame's Kareem Orr (4) takes a shot in front of Bledsoe County's Eric Hale, left, and Blake McCloudTuesday at Notre Dame High School.

Photo by Alyson Wright/Times Free Press.

The stats made Mark Cagle cringle.

Twenty-four turnovers. Twelve missed free throws.

Yet in the end there was one Bledsoe County win Tuesday night, so there were zero complaints from the Warriors' coach.

Jamal Worthington scored 26 points, including the winning runner with under 10 seconds remaining, and the Warriors found a way to defeat Notre Dame 57-55 for a big District 7-AA victory.

Worthington fought foul trouble throughout, playing only about 20 minutes. He was the only Warrior in double figures and added 12 rebounds, four blocks and three steals, but all eight available players contributed to the victory.

"We knew coming in that Notre Dame would be pretty tough," Cagle said. "They're not huge, but they're quick and athletic, and we would have to do little things like boxing out and hitting free throws.

"Our younger guys played played decent. We're young coming off the bench, but they contributed and kept it close until the end, and then Jamal came in and hit a couple of big shots for us."

Eric Hale kept the Warriors in the game with Blake McCloud and Worthington in foul trouble. He finished with six points and seven assists. Zach Campbell had eight rebounds, while McCloud and Chad Cagle each scored eight points and Connor Boynton added six.

Bledsoe won the rebounding battle 38-32 but was only 6-for-18 at the foul line. Notre Dame wasn't much better at the charity stripe, hitting 10 of 22.

The Irish, who played without senior point guard Stedmon Ford, held the largest edge of the game with an eight-point first-quarter lead. They led 49-44 on a layup by Kealey Green with 4:35 remaining, which forced Cagle to have to insert Worthington and McCloud -- both on the bench with four fouls since the third quarter -- back into the contest.

The two made an immediate difference, as Worthington hit a layup, then fed McCloud for the tying 3-pointer.

The Irish continued to work the ball inside, trimming the deficit to two on a layup by freshman Tyler Byrd. Then after McCloud fouled out on a charge call, Kywaun Davenport hit two free throws with 24.1 seconds left, setting up Worthington's heroics.

Green led the Irish with 16 points, followed by Byrd with 14. Kareem Orr was all over the court in place of Ford and totaled 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

"We're not going to make excuses," Notre Dame coach J.P. Nermun said. "Stedmon is obviously a loss with his offensive production and running the offense, and I thought we had a tough day with the referees, but you have to expect that and move on. I think we let that affect us and we didn't do things we set out to do.

"We know how to play better than that, but we're going to be ready for McCallie on Thursday."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.