Tritons’ defense sparks victory over Spartans
By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON – The Luxemburg-Casco girls’ basketball team had scored 70 points or more in 10 of its contests this season.
However, on this night, the Notre Dame Tritons held the Spartans to 23 points below their season average in route to a 54-40 WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal victory in a game played at Ashwaubenon High School Feb. 28.
The Tritons advanced to play the No. 1-ranked Beaver Dam Golden Beavers in a sectional final contest held Mar. 2 at Kaukauna High School, in which the winner will advance to the state tournament held at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
“We moved the ball well against their 2-3 zone,” said Notre Dame head coach Sara Rohde. “It led to some open looks at the edge of the lane and obviously on the perimeter where Charley knocked down big shots for us in that second half.”
Georgia Gregoire led the Tritons with 19 points, and Charley Apple added 15.
UW-Green Bay recruit Cassie Schiltz led the Spartans with 19 points, but many of those were in the game’s first 25 minutes, before getting into late foul trouble.
It appeared as though both squads felt the magnitude of the game as neither team could find the hoop with regularity to start the contest.
Despite having a height-differential at some positions, the Tritons crashed the glass early, getting rebound put-backs by Gregoire and Maggie Gallagher to go up 14-10.
At the end of the first half, Notre Dame hit back-to-back threes by Samantha LeFever and Apple to give the Tritons some much needed momentum heading into halftime.
“I thought we closed the first half well despite not shooting it great in the first 18 minutes,” added Rohde. “We held them (L-C) to only six first-half field goals, and their second leading scorer to zero points.”
The Spartans cut the margin to three on two separate occasions to start half number two after Jenna Jorgensen finally got on track with her scoring.
However, Apple responded with quick five points to push the Tritons’ lead back up to 34-26 with 9:51 remaining.
“My coaches were just telling me to be confident with my shot,” said Apple. “I had some open looks and knocked them down.”
Later on, with the Tritons holding a 36-34 lead with under seven minutes left, the momentum swung back in Notre Dame’s favor after Schiltz picked up her fourth foul and was forced to the bench.
The second-seeded Tritons took full advantage, as they went on a game-clinching 12-2 run during the next five minutes to turn a one-possession lead into a comfortable 48-36 lead.
“We knew we had to step up down the stretch and get it done,” Rohde added. “I was proud of the way we played the final seven minutes of the game.”
As for the showdown with Beaver Dam, Notre Dame knows it won’t be easy.
“They are a great team,” said Apple. “However, we will show up thinking and knowing we can win the game.”
Luxemburg-Casco: 14, 26—40
Notre Dame: 20, 34—54
Spartans: Schiltz 19, Jorgensen 13, Adams 4, Hanson 3, Kollross 1
Tritons: Gregoire 19, Apple 15, Opichka 7, LeFever 5, Blindauer 3, Cribben 3, Gallagher 2