High school sports don’t exist in France. So Notre Dame senior Louis Lesmond, who also played in the Evanston-New Trier rivalry before transferring, has an outsider’s perspective. He moved to the United States just before high school.
‘‘I like it,’’ Lesmond said. ‘‘Whether it was Evanston-New Trier or here [against] St. Patrick, it is a great atmosphere and a special occasion. In France, you don’t have the chance to play for your school and feel everyone behind you and hear the big student sections.’’
There weren’t any big student sections Tuesday on Belmont Avenue. One of the premier rivalries in the Chicago area was played in front of a couple of dozen parents and a sophomore team.
It’s a shame because this one would have been a special memory for Notre Dame and St. Patrick students. The No. 5 Dons beat the No. 10 Shamrocks 52-45. It was the first time in recent memory the rivals had played while both were ranked in the top 10.
‘‘It’s pretty much the biggest rivalry in the state,’’ Lesmond said. ‘‘Obviously, they try and take shots at me for being from France. But I don’t really care about that. I’m just here to play hard, and at the moment I’m 2-0 against St. Patrick.’’
Lesmond scored 14 points and had six rebounds for Notre Dame. Senior Anthony Sayles led the Dons (6-1, 3-0 East Suburban Catholic) with 17 points. SIU recruit Troy D’Amico added 11 points and five rebounds.
D’Amico hasn’t flashed his usual offensive firepower this season, but he’s finding other ways to contribute. He followed a rebound and basket with an assist to Sayles with 2:55 left to help Notre Dame build a five-point lead during a crucial stretch.
‘‘My shot is not falling, and everybody can see that,’’ D’Amico said. ‘‘I’m just trying to do as much as I can to help the team. Especially in a game like this, where all 10 guys on the court are going as hard as they can.’’
The Dons led by five after three quarters, but the Shamrocks (2-1, 2-1) really hit their stride early in the fourth. Senior Caleb Corro scored the first two baskets before a jumper by Nick Galati with six minutes left put St. Patrick ahead 32-31.
Notre Dame, however, wasn’t fazed. D’Amico responded with a three-pointer, and the Shamrocks never led again.
‘‘We’ve got veterans who showed great composure down the stretch,’’ Dons coach Kevin Clancy said. ‘‘Despite the 50-people limit, it felt just like a normal rivalry game against St. Pat’s. It was fun to be a part of, and the guys take pride in it. Our seniors stepped up big time.”
Junior Timaris Brown led St. Patrick with 15 points and seven rebounds. Corro added 11 points and eight rebounds and Galati 11 points.
‘‘[Notre Dame] is a little bit more battle-tested,’’ Shamrocks coach Mike Bailey said. ‘‘That’s not an excuse; they played really good tonight. But that was one of our concerns coming into the game, especially after our game against St. Joseph was canceled.’’
Notre Dame, which opened the season on top of the Super 25, lost to Mundelein without Sayles on Sunday.
‘‘We kind of needed that loss to remind us we aren’t the best in the world or something,’’ Lesmond said. ‘‘It was a great way to bounce back. Hopefully we see Mundelein or St. Pat’s again in the end-of-season tournament.’’
Watch the final minute of Notre Dame at St. Patrick: