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Statement slam: Scottie Ebube and No. 5 Mundelein beat No. 1 Notre Dame

Mundelein celebrated wholeheartedly after the win. In a season without holiday tournaments or playoffs, this was a victory to savor. It was a moment the team and community had waited years to experience. 

Mundelein’s Scottie Ebube (44) dunks the ball over Notre Dame.
Mundelein’s Scottie Ebube (44) dunks the ball over Notre Dame.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Conor Enright passed the ball off the backboard, and Scottie Ebube slammed it home. It was the perfect exclamation point for the biggest victory of the season.

It’s safe to assume the Mundelein fans and parents watching the livestream of the game went wild.

‘‘I thought it was going to be too high, but I got to it,’’ Ebube said. ‘‘It was a great finish to a great win.’’

The No. 5 Mustangs beat No. 1 Notre Dame 51-42 on Sunday in Niles. Mundelein celebrated wholeheartedly after the victory. In a season without holiday tournaments or playoffs, this was one to savor. It was a moment the team and community had waited years to experience.

‘‘It was so awesome,’’ said Enright, a Drake recruit. ‘‘There weren’t many people here, but it still felt loud to us.’’

The Mustangs have five talented senior starters. This is the season they’ve been building toward.

‘‘It almost feels like a farewell tour,’’ Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said. ‘‘It definitely felt like a playoff atmosphere, minus the crowd. That was the bummer. But our kids have brought their own crowd.’’

Enright finished with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. The 6-9 Ebube, a Southern Illinois recruit, was too much for the Dons to handle and added 12 points and 14 rebounds. Trey Baker had 13 points, Jack Bickus eight rebounds and Syam Atade seven points and six rebounds for the Mustangs.

‘‘[Ebube] is a beast,’’ Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy said. ‘‘[Troy D’Amico] worked extremely hard defensively on him, and he battled it as best as he could. It affected what he did offensively because of the wear and physicality of the game. Troy didn’t shoot the ball as usual, and that certainly didn’t help us.’’

D’Amico’s offense was out of sync, and Dons point guard Anthony Sayles, one of the best players in the area, was on the bench in street clothes. He missed the game for personal reasons but is expected back for the rivalry game against St. Patrick.

Harvard recruit Louis Lesmond stepped up to help fill the void for Notre Dame. He had 22 points and five rebounds and made Enright work for everything on offense.

A three-pointer by Lesmond with 3:26 left in the third quarter put the Dons ahead 31-27, but Baker countered with a steal and basket that kick-started a 14-0 run for Mundelein.

‘‘Mundelein did a great job [on Lesmond] in the fourth quarter, making him uncomfortable,’’ Clancy said. ‘‘He didn’t get many clean looks late in the game. They get a ton of credit for locking in defensively.’’

Notre Dame managed only one basket in the final 11:26 of the game. Ebube said that type of defense is the key for the Mustangs.

‘‘When we focus and play defense like this, we are the best team in the state,’’ Ebube said.

The situation at the top of the rankings is cloudy. Mundelein lost its season opener to Lake Forest, but Ebube was out with an injury. This was the Dons’ first loss, and it came without Sayles. Simeon and Young won’t play until Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, respectively.

‘‘There were big-time players in this game, and they just made a few more plays than us,’’ Clancy said. ‘‘They were really good.’’

The Mustangs will face Libertyville on Wednesday. Notre Dame will play St. Patrick on the road Tuesday.

‘‘We will see what we are made of,’’ Clancy said. ‘‘One of our goals this year is winning the conference championship, and we’ve got to learn from today and move on.’’

Watch the final minute of Mundelein at Notre Dame: