By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY — With two talented freshman and several key returnees in its rotation, the Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball team showed why they are one of the top Division 2 teams in the state.
The Tritons (2-0 overall) grabbed an early lead and never looked back in defeating Appleton East 82-66 in a nonconference game Dec. 3 at Notre Dame High School.
“We were very disciplined in the first half,” said Notre Dame head coach Sara Rohde. “We stuck to the game plan. Appleton East has lots of talent on its team. Lily (Hansford) is a great shooter and Emily (La Chapell) has a great inside-out game. We knew it would be a tough matchup, but I thought we executed to get a good win.”
Sammy Opichka led the Tritons with 20 points and freshman post player Gracie Grzesk added 19.
The Patriots (2-1 overall) were led by La Chapell’s game-high 33 points.
After an exchange of baskets to open the game, Notre Dame never looked back.
The Tritons opened up a 17-7 lead after Opichka stole an errant pass and went coast-to-coast for the layup.
“We got out in transition well after a miss,” Rohde said. “Defensively, we filled the gaps well and everybody worked together to stop their big weapons.”
The Patriots battled back to 20-14 after Sammi Beyer hit a triple from the wing, but the Tritons took command of the first half by continually taking drives to the hole and finishing around the rim with little defensive resistance.
Notre Dame scored 12 of the final 14 points of the first half to take a commanding 47-28 lead into intermission.
The Tritons extended their margin to 27 points after Charley Apple and Georgia Gregoire buried back-to-back 3-pointers, and Opichka scored a bucket off a nice back-cut.
“What makes a great team is when players come into a game and there’s no drop off in ability or talent,” said Rohde. “Our girls communicate well and play with a high level of intensity.”
Appleton East cut the margin to 63-44 with 8:47 left behind La Chapell’s 19 second-half points, but the balanced Tritons had too much firepower down the stretch.
Notre Dame will host Kimberly in another FRCC/FVA tilt Dec. 5 at Notre Dame.
Appleton East: 28, 38 — 66
Notre Dame: 47, 35 — 82
Patriots: La Chapell 33, Beyer 16, Hansford 14, Lowry 2, Kennedy 1.
Tritons: Opichka 20, Grzesk 19, Apple 14, Gregoire 13, Hardwick 7, Fayta 6, Barington 3.