Tritons can’t overcome huge first-half run by Golden Beavers
By Murray Gleffe
KAUKAUNA – The nationally-ranked Beaver Dam Golden Beavers girls’ basketball team went on a 22-0 run midway through the first half to post a 68-40 victory over Notre Dame Academy March 2 at Kaukauna High School.
The WIAA Division 2 sectional-final defeat for the Tritons ended their season at 16-10.
“We had a tremendous season,” said Notre Dame head coach Sara Rohde. “We had some growing up to do to start but then gained momentum down the stretch. We have quite a few sophomores in our rotation that have had great years for us that I feel will do positive things moving forward. Our two seniors, Keighley (Blindauer) and Samantha (LeFever), gave us tremendous leadership this year and will be missed.”
The Golden Beavers’ (25-1) only loss on the season is to Miami Country Day out of Florida.
Despite being huge underdogs coming into the contest, Notre Dame jumped on Beaver Dam right from the opening tip in grabbing an early 9-2 lead.
All four baskets were in transition and ended in layups.
“We came out with a lot of energy and played to win,” said Notre Dame sophomore Sammy Opichka. “We took it to their pressure and finished.”
Beaver Dam settled back into its offense to take a 13-12 lead, but just seconds later, Charley Apple hit a triple from the top of the key to give the Tritons the lead back (14-13) with 9:30 left until halftime.
“I was super proud of the start we had,” Rohde said. “We knew they would extend their trap and be very physical. I think we caught them off-guard a bit and executed to perfection.”
Then, within the span of 6:40, the Golden Beavers scored 22 unanswered to go up 35-14 just before the intermission.
During the run, Beaver Dam forced nine turnovers and blocked six shots defensively, and hit numerous three-point shots on the other end of the court.
“They are a great team that got on a run, and we couldn’t stop them,” said Rohde. “I called a couple of timeouts to calm our girls down, but the points just kept coming.”
With the Tritons down 23 at the half, they refused to throw in the towel.
With Beaver Dam struggling to connect on shots to open the final 18 minutes, Notre Dame cut the second-half margin to 51-37 with 6:35 remaining.
“I thought we really put the clamps on them defensively for a majority of the second half,” Rohde added about her team’s performance. “We held them to I think four field goals for a 12-minute stretch, which is hard to do with their explosiveness.”
The Golden Beavers went on a 17-5 run to close the game.
“We have a good thing going here at Notre Dame,” Rohde said. “The middle school and freshmen and junior varsity teams are very strong. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Sammy Opichka was the lone Notre Dame player in double figures, finishing with 14 points.
Matyson Wilke, who has over 30 Division 1 offers, led Beaver Dam with 19 points, while Jada Donaldson added 14.
Wisconsin recruit Tara Stauffacher and North Dakota commit Aly Van Loo, rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10 apiece.
Notre Dame: 18, 22 – 40
Beaver Dam: 41, 27 – 68
Tritons: Opichka 14, Gregoire 9, Hardwick 4, Lemens 4, Blindauer 3, Apple 3, Brummel 2, Gallagher 1.
Golden Beavers: Wilke 19, Donaldson 14, Stauffacher 10, Van Loo 10, Schumann 9, Jens 4, Stonewall 2.