Evanston’s Blake Peters does it again, nails game-winning three in OT to beat Notre Dame
The Wildkits advance to face Simeon on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Chipotle Clash of Champions semifinals at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame’s players crumpled to the court. The season that started with so much promise a little more than a month ago was over. It happened suddenly, courtesy of a Blake Peters’ buzzer-beating three-pointer in overtime.
Peters made national headlines with his 80-foot game-winning shot against Maine South in his freshman year. He has made several game-winning shots in the three years since, but he missed the potential game-winner at the end of regulation against Notre Dame on Friday.
But Peters didn’t miss in overtime. His step-back three gave No. 11 Evanston a 58-56 victory against No. 12 Notre Dame. The Wildkits advanced to face Simeon in the semifinals of the Chipotle Clash of Champions at 11 a.m. Saturday at Notre Dame.
“I wanted the ball in my hands,” Peters said. “I felt like I should have made the first one, and I didn’t. We stayed positive and poised. I just tried to get open. The step-back is definitely a difficult shot.”
Peters was locked down by Dons senior Louis Lesmond, his former teammate, for most of the game. But he found a way to get loose for the two biggest shots of the game.
“If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past four years, it’s that you have to be persistent,” Peters said. “[Elijah Bull] really stepped up and kept us in it throughout the first half and the third quarter. And [Rashawn Bost] had some great steals. I just brought us home.”
Bull led the Wildkits (16-2) with 17 points, and Peters finished with 12. Sophomore Prince Adams (six points, six rebounds) and senior Ola Ajiboye (six points) provided substantial rim protection against the Dons, who led by 11 at halftime.
Lesmond scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed six rebounds. He put on a show in the first three quarters, scoring in a variety of ways while limiting Peters. But things fell apart for Notre Dame (15-3) in the fourth.
“I felt there was an opportunity for us when Notre Dame elected to take the air out of the ball a little too soon,” Evanston coach Mike Ellis said. “That’s not their game. You’ve got two scorers, one point guard and you want to try to hold the clock out with a two-point lead with 1:50 to go? That gave us a chance.”
The teams traded buckets in overtime, with Notre Dame eventually grabbing a 56-52 lead. Isaiah Holden hit a three with 10 seconds to play, and then Peters hit the game-winner.
“Credit to all the guys,” Peters said. “It is very easy to fall apart in those big moments with your career on the line. It’s definitely a nauseating feeling. We pulled through. We’ve been doing that the last four years, so it is nothing new.”
Troy D’Amico scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Dons and Sonny Williams added nine points. Anthony Sayles finished with seven points.
“I told the team they’ve helped change the identity of Notre Dame basketball,” Dons coach Kevin Clancy said. “There’s no sense in reflecting on the game, it’s really just more about appreciation for the guys and their work. They just played their butts off tonight and it was a play here or there that made the difference and they made one more at the end than us.”