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Boys Basketball: Plano falters in tournament opener to Peoria Notre Dame

Irish shoot 62 percent from arc to upset No. 3 seed Reapers, 57-51

The Plano boys basketball team had no time to sulk in the locker room after Tuesday night's upset loss to No. 14 seed Peoria Notre Dame.

The No. 3 seeded Reapers had just 12 hours to figure out how to get back in the win column against Mendota before a 9 a.m. tipoff in the consolation bracket on Dec. 28.

It was not a situation that Plano was expecting to be in after a 57-51 loss to the Irish.

"We don't like it. We should have won," Plano coach Kyle Kee said. "I told the guys that we don't want this game to define our tournament. Mendota is going to be tough and come ready to play."

Peoria Notre Dame relied heavily on its long-range shooting against Plano, and found its shot beyond the arc early in the second round game. Braedon Blackford (19 points) hit the first one for the Irish late in the first quarter and Peoria Notre Dame connected on seven more throughout the game.

"We are perimeter oriented in our scoring this year - not that our post can't score, but our best players are our perimeter players and our offense is designed to get those shots," Peoria Notre Dame coach Tom Lacher said. "We gutted it out. Plano is a good basketball team and we knew we'd have our hands full."

Peoria Notre Dame hit a pair of them early in the second quarter to tie the game at 16 after trailing, and Jimmy Kelly (18 points) hit another 3-pointer to give the Irish their first lead of the game, 19-16, with under three minutes to go in the first half. Although Elijah Maisonet (16 points) and Anthony Martinez (12 points) connected on their shots, Plano went into halftime trailing 27-23.

Plano fell behind 31-23 in the second half, but Brandon Contreras knocked down a 3-pointer and the Reapers ignited a 12-0 run including seven from Maisonet to turn the score around for a 35-31 Reaper lead. Peoria Notre Dame ended its drought with a long-distance field goal, but trailed Plano 41-38 entering the fourth quarter.

Will Benson and Ethan Kee came up with big buckets for Plano early in the final frame to give Plano a 45-40 advantage, but the Irish chipped away to eventually lead 48-47 midway through the fourth. The lead continued to shift hands down the stretch, as a 3-pointer by Martinez gave Plano a 51-50 lead with 1:44 to go, but that didn't last long.

Kelly converted his own triple on the opposite end of the court and was fouled on his successful field goal, completing the four-point play with 1:24 left to put Peoria Notre Dame ahead 54-51. The Irish converted at the free-throw line to seal their win.

"That's easily the turning point. We're in position, but we gambled and it was an ill-advised trying to steal something and ended up having to scramble back," Kee said. "We make a dumb touch foul on the shooter. They made the plays and the free throws down the stretch. The way we played in the third quarter and the fourth, we were doing things right. It was just unfortunate. We make one mistake that ends up in a four-point play, and that was tough."

Tournament play continues through Friday, where Plano's best chance at recovering from its opening loss would be a ninth-place finish in the consolation bracket with three games remaining.

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