Sports

New London knocks Nikes in district semifinals

New London’s Blaise Porter (21) takes a fadeaway shot over Notre Dame’s Josh Smith (20) during the Tigers’ 60-49 victory in the district semifinals. (Andy Krutsinger/The Union)
New London’s Blaise Porter (21) takes a fadeaway shot over Notre Dame’s Josh Smith (20) during the Tigers’ 60-49 victory in the district semifinals. (Andy Krutsinger/The Union)
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BURLINGTON — It was only his third game in the rivalry, but New London’s Camden Kasel wrote a big chapter in Thursday night’s district semifinal against Notre Dame.

Kasel, who came over the river from Illinois to attend New London this year, caught fire for the Tigers in the first half, pouring in 17 points over the first two quarters to help lead New London to a 60-49 win.

“I feel like people forget about Camden,” said Tiger head coach Bryant Porter. “He’s a wild card, and when he’s on, good luck.”

Kasel hit four 3-pointers in the first half, all in front of a raucous Notre Dame student section, to boost New London to a 28-22 halftime lead. The Nikes never saw the lead for the rest of the night.

“It felt great,” Kasel said. “My teammates kept looking for me and giving me open looks, and I got lucky and hit a couple.”

Despite the early rush, the Tigers still had to battle to hold the Nikes off in the second half. Notre Dame cut the lead to six, at 51-45 after three quarters, and trimmed it down to as low as three in the final minutes.

“Notre Dame is a scrappy team,” said Coach Porter. “It’s hard to put them away.”

Every time Notre Dame would get close, though, New London would pull away. Blaise Porter scored seven points in the fourth quarter and 12 in the second half to help the Tigers pull away, but he says it was the team’s late-game defense that helped put the Nikes away.

“We had to turn up our defensive pressure and stop them from scoring inside,” Porter said. “Once we started doing that and grabbing boards, we were good.”

Kasel didn’t score in the second half, but still led the Tigers with 17 in the game. Porter finished with 16. Kade Benjamin had 14, including a two-handed dunk for the first two points of the ballgame, and Devin Swanson added 13.

New London (18-4) will take on Springville on Tuesday night at a site to be named later. The Orioles had to stage a late comeback over Danville to make it to that game. The winner of that contest plays either Easton Valley (20-0) or Wapello (16-3) in the substate final.