Notre Dame turns back De Pere in overtime
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Offensive rebounds and the play of sophomore Sammy Opichka helped the Green Bay Notre Dame girls’ basketball team to a 46-43 Fox River Classic Conference overtime win over De Pere Feb. 5 at Notre Dame High School.
Trailing 40-38 early in the extra session, the Tritons’ Opichka converted on a three-point play after Notre Dame kept the possession alive with two offensive rebounds.
The Tritons (11-8 overall, 10-5 FRCC) would not relinquish the lead from there, hitting six free throws down the stretch to win their fourth game in a row.
“I’m really proud of my girls,” said Notre Dame head coach Sara Rohde. “We had so many hustle plays tonight with all the loose balls and offensive rebounds. We showed true grit and determination. It was a great win, but there is a lot we can learn from it. We made enough free throws in the end to get the victory. De Pere has such good three-point shooters, so we had to get out on them.”
With the victory, the Tritons swept the season series with De Pere (13-6, 9-6).
“It was a great victory,” said Opichka, who scored 16 points to lead all scorers. “This week in practice, we really focused on what we needed to do defensively to take away De Pere’s tendencies. We played good defense. After my three-point play, our energy level went up.”
Opichka also had the task of guarding De Pere’s freshman standout Jordan Meulemans, who was held to just two points on the night.
Notre Dame was also playing without sophomore Georgia Gregoire, who is averaging about 13 points per game this season.
The contest was nip-and-tuck the whole way, with neither team having more than a five-point lead the entire night.
“I thought we played great defense,” said De Pere head coach Jeremy Boileau. “We executed the game plan there, but we just couldn’t finish a lot of possessions by getting the rebounds we needed. We got out-rebounded 36-21, and Notre Dame had double digits in second-chance points. We have to get better heading into the tournament – hopefully, we can learn from this game.”
Tied at 38 with 1:42 left in regulation, the Tritons held the ball for a final shot but turned it over with 15.5 seconds remaining.
The Redbirds gave the ball right back on the ensuing possession, but Notre Dame couldn’t convert on the other end as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
After Natalie Cerrato hit two free throws to give De Pere a 40-38 lead in overtime, Opichka’s play switched the momentum back to the Tritons.
Cerrato led the Redbirds with 14 points, 12 of which came on three pointers. The senior guard scored nine of the first 12 points for De Pere early in the game.
Rachel Kerkhoff added 10 points for the Redbirds, while Emily Cribben chipped in with 12 for Notre Dame.
De Pere: 18, 20, 5 – 43
Notre Dame: 21, 17, 8 – 46