Mercy Miller & Alijah Arenas each score 35 as Notre Dame dominates Chatsworth 91-44 to win Faith Baptist Tourney

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The excitement filled the gym for the Faith Baptist Tournament championship game on Friday, December 22, 2023 between the Notre Dame Knights and the Chatsworth Chancellors, featuring standouts senior guard Mercy Miller and sophomore guard Alijah Arenas. A four-star University of Houston commit and son of legendary hip-hop mogul Master P, Miller and his Top-50 nationally ranked 10-0 Notre Dame team were looking to remain unbeaten on the season. Alijah Arenas, the son of former Washington Wizards All-Star and Grant High School alum Gilbert Arenas, is the fourth ranked player on the ESPN Class of 2026 averaging 34.1 PPG heading into Friday night’s game. As both fathers watched in the stands, the 5-6 Chancellors kept the contest close - within a point after the first quarter before the Knights unleashed a relentless defensive attack, holding Chatsworth to four points in the second quarter. Miller dropped 35 points (20 in the second half), 9 rebounds, and 5 assists as Notre Dame took home the championship trophy for the Faith Baptist Tournament.

After the tip-off, both teams exchanged baskets to start off the game, with Arenas scoring six quick points to give Chatsworth an early 9-5 lead. The Knights proceeded to go on a 10-0 run, sparked by sophomore forward Zachary White, whose six of nine first quarter points came off of three thunderous dunks to ignite the crowd. Arenas added a couple of points from the charity stripe and an additional three pointer to bring the score to a slim 17-16 deficit in favor of the Knights at the end of the first quarter.

After a competitive low-scoring first quarter, Notre Dame picked up their defensive intensity, sharpening their rotations and forcing deflections in the passing lanes. The Knights took advantage of the forced turnovers to create fast break points, one of which was a cross-court bounce pass from Miller to junior point guard Angelino Mark for the flush. Arenas was continuously double-teamed, as the Knights defense baited him to a right side corner trap on the sideline, causing multiple turnovers. Notre Dame assistant coach Boston Powers highlighted the Knights’ doubling strategy against Arenas after the game, “We knew he was going to kinda get to his spots and spin back most of the time, so we were trying to send a guy early, so when he’d spin back, there’d be a second guy there every time.”

Miller caught fire offensively with 15 points in the second quarter, as he successfully attacked the paint and used his strength and athleticism to score inside and get to the free throw line.The Knights outscored the Chancellors 27-4 to take a 44-20 lead into the locker room. Notre Dame continued to pour it on in the second half, as the Knights began to put on a show with two alley-oop dunks from Miller and senior center Brandon Schmidt-Uili. Mark later brought the crowd into a frenzy with a posterized right-handed jam over Chatsworth junior shotblocker Taj Unuakhalu. Arenas got going offensively in the third quarter where he scored 12 of his 35 points, but his efforts couldn’t make up the deficit on the scoreboard.

After extending Knights’ halftime lead to 72-37 through three quarters, Miller capped off a championship performance from the Knights with scoring 10 of his 35 in the fourth quarter and added a two-hand dunk as an exclamation point before exiting the game. Notre Dame cruised towards a 91-44 victory, the team celebrated and held up their trophy plaque to the crowd. Powers highlights the chemistry on the team developed from the years of playing with each other and cohesiveness enhanced by the team leadership of Miller. “If he was a very selfish kind of a player, it would be very difficult, but he’s the most unselfish. He’s the hardest worker,” states Powers, “he leads from the front that way with the attitude and the effort.”

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