Notre Dame leading scorer and Marshall commit Jarrod West stood in front of a frenzied Notre Dame student section with his hands on top of his head and tears in his eyes saying, “We finally got one.”
After three years of blown leads and missed opportunities at the Charleston Civic Center, West and his senior teammates finished their prep careers by finally doing just that — finishing.
The Irish (23-5) built up a lead that reached as high as 22 points in the first half, and this time they were able to face down the frantic rallies of their opponent, allowing No. 2 Ravenswood to get no closer than seven the rest of the way in a 63-55 win Saturday afternoon in the Class A boys basketball state championship game.
No. 4 Notre Dame hit 9 of 14 3-pointers in the first half and used its pressure defense and transition game to turn 10 Red Devil turnovers into 22 points, the exact margin of its 43-21 lead at halftime.
Ravenswood scored the first seven points of the second half and was just a shot or two away from making things really interesting down the stretch, but West and his father/coach Jarrod West were finally able to celebrate what they’d pursued together for four long years, culminating in a flood of emotions in the postgame celebration.
It seemed appropriate that right as West Virginia was beating Notre Dame to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament, the elder West, who hit one of the most famous shots in WVU history on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the Mountaineers to the Sweet Sixteen over No. 2 seed Cincinnati in 1998, was once again celebrating on the hardwood.
He said Saturday’s feeling was even better.
“This surpasses my shot I hit in 1998 and I really mean that,” the elder West said. “When it’s you that does it, as a player you expect to do well. As a coach and when your kid is involved, whether it’s tying your shoe for the first time or riding a bike, the feeling you get — for him to come off this court as a winner, that’s something nobody can ever take away from him.”
The Irish came out on fire, building a 10-0 lead. After Ravenswood (24-3) answered with a 10-2 spurt, Notre Dame closed the first half by outscoring the Red Devils 31-11.
“We just came out with a lot of energy,” the younger West said. “We were really excited to play in this game but we knew we weren’t finished, we had business to take care of. We took good shots, we played in transition.”
The younger West was a big part of that, scoring 16 of his 29 points and handing out five of his six assists in the first half.
“Basically, the tale of two games really,” the elder West said. “That first half — if not the best, one of the best halves we’ve played all year — we shot the ball great, defended well. Came into halftime and the first thing we put on the board was ‘FINISH.’ We’ve had leads on this floor several times and haven’t been able to finish.
“They came out and got a 7-0 run and chopped it to 15 and I knew it was going to be a battle.”
Indeed, the quick start to the third quarter kept the Red Devils in it and Ravenswood kept coming, cutting it all the way down to seven points on a 3-pointer from Jayden Rhodes with 1:28 left.
Notre Dame’s Jared Fagan missed a pair of free throws, giving the Red Devils a chance to close even further.
But after all the offensive numbers the younger West compiled, perhaps the biggest play of the game and his prep career came on defense in which the 5-foot-11 guard was matched up in the post with 6-7 Red Devils big man Riley Heatherington.
Heatherington hauled in an inbounds pass but brought the ball down before going up, allowing the quick-handed West to steal the ball and pass out to Jaret Mullooly, who was fouled immediately.
Mullooly hit both free throws, giving the Irish a nine-point lead with 50 seconds to go and the end was clearly in sight for Notre Dame.
“We dug ourselves a hole today,” Ravenswood coach Mick Price said. “They scored 22 points off our  turnovers in the first half. The easiest thing these guys could’ve done is just say, ‘Man, we just don’t have it today,’ but they didn’t. They just kept playing. We kept playing four minutes at a time.
“We were trying to get a break, trying to get a shot, trying to get to the bonus and my hat’s off to these kids. It’s easy to fold when nothing is expected of you, especially when you’re down like that. We did not do that today.”
And it wasn’t like Notre Dame hadn’t seen leads slip away before, including losing double-digit leads in the fourth quarter multiple times this season.
The elder West admitted that all of those memories came back as the final horn sounded.
“It’s rough when you come down here and you’ve lost the way we’ve lost,” he said. “You’ve got to pick yourself up, you’ve got to dust yourself off. You’ve got to hear, ‘Can we win the big one?’ You hear a lot of stuff.
“Lot of emotions. When you eat, drink, sleep basketball and you put so much into it and to come down here and lose the way we’ve lost, it stings. So when that final buzzer went off and to know that we finally finished and won one — and to do it with your son — it’s amazing.”
The younger West finished with four rebounds, six assists and four steals while Gabe Zummo contributed 15 points and four assists.
Heatherington was the lone double-digit scorer for the Red Devils, pouring in 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
The Irish finished with 27 points off 15 Ravenswood turnovers, while the Red Devils only turned 11 Notre Dame miscues into eight points.