Preble wins low-scoring game over Notre Dame
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – The first time the Green Bay Preble and Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball teams played this year, it was a one-sided affair.
The rematch Jan 31 was anything but a blowout.
Notre Dame led by seven points with 7:38 remaining, but Preble’s defense locked down and forced the game into overtime.
A made free throw by Kendall Renard with 3.2 seconds left was the difference, as the Hornets eked out a 35-34 road victory in Fox River Classic Conference action.
“We needed this, and we knew we had it,” said Preble junior guard Carley Duffney, who scored a game-high 18 points.
The win puts Preble in a tie for second place in the conference with Notre Dame at 10-3, three games behind undefeated Bay Port (13-0).
“We have looks for first in the conference, and that’s what we want,” Duffney said. “Hopefully, someone can beat Bay Port, and we can win the rest of our games.”
Preble (13-4 overall) wouldn’t have been in the game if it wasn’t for its defense.
The Tritons (12-5) had 30 points in the first 28 minutes, 22 seconds of the game, but in the final 11 minutes, 38 seconds – which includes overtime – the Tritons were held to four points.
“It’s one of the best defenses I’ve ever coached,” Preble coach Jim Doell said.
“We turned the ball over way too much,” Notre Dame coach Sarah Rohde said. “Our girls didn’t value possessions. We would make some good steals, and then we would take an impossible shot. We’ve got to work for better shots and take care of the ball.”
Notre Dame had a five-point lead in the opening half, but the Hornets cut the deficit to two, 18-16, at halftime.
The Tritons stretched their lead to 30-23 before Preble chipped away.
“The nice thing is, they’ve been in big games,” Doell said. “Last year, we won lots of close games. We had lots of those girls coming back. Last year to beat Bay Port, we were down 13 at one point in the second half and found a way to nibble away at it. The girls know to be patient and not get out of system. They stayed in system and did an awesome job for us. I couldn’t be happier and more proud.”
The Hornets went on a 9-0 run as Duffney hit a pair of shots and Renard added five points for a 32-30 lead.
Notre Dame tied it at 32 with a pair of free throws with 1:57 left in regulation.
Preble had a number of opportunities in the final minute to score, but the game was sent to overtime.
Duffney broke the deadlock by hitting a shot with 2:22 left to give the Hornets the lead back.
However, Hope Barington scored her second basket of the night to tie it at 34-34.
Looking to create a shot, Renard drove the lane and was fouled with 3.2 seconds remaining.
She hit the second of two free throws to take back the lead for good.
A desperation heave from three-point range by Sammy Opichka was on target but went off the back iron.
Notre Dame, which was led in scoring by Georgia Gregoire’s 11 points, could only muster five made fields in the final 22 minutes of the game.
“We’ve been working on defense in the last week, and we know that’s what we have to do to win,” Duffney said. “Their offense is amazing, and we know that for us to win, we had to keep them to a low score.”
Renard, who found herself in foul trouble four midway through the second half, finished with 11 points after scoring only three in the opening half.
“They didn’t panic,” Doell said. “One of our leading scorers is on the bench, and they were patient, ran good offense and got good looks.”
Preble has five games remaining on its schedule, all against conference teams, so it will have a chance to make up ground on Bay Port.
“We have a tough stretch coming up,” said Doell, whose team travels to Green Bay Southwest on Feb. 3. “In the FRCC, you get into certain stretches where you hope to survive through it. The next game will be difficult as well. We can’t celebrate this one a whole lot like we’d love to, because we’ve got some work to do for Tuesday.”