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Opichka, Hardwick lead Tritons over Phantoms

By Murray Gleffe

GREEN BAY — On Dec. 5, the Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball team suffered its first loss of the season against Kimberly.

Fast forward to Dec. 10.

The Tritons made sure the outcome was never in doubt, as they powered to a 74-43 victory over previously unbeaten West De Pere in a nonconference game at Notre Dame High School.

Sammy Opichka led the Tritons with 26 points, and Sarah Hardwick added 12 points and seven rebounds.

“We’ve been coming out hard in the first half and then slowed in the second half,” said Opichka about recent games. “We’ve focused in on the third quarter in practice (the first nine minutes of the second half), and I thought we did a good job in tonight’s game at increasing the lead from the break.”

West De Pere (4-1 overall) was paced by Casey Jepson’s 13 points.

Notre Dame’s full-court pressure forced the Phantoms into 19 turnovers.

The Tritons (4-1) flexed their muscles early in this one.

Up five points, Notre Dame went on a 16-3 run behind steals and layup conversions.

“We have the athletes to run and create pressure,” said Notre Dame head coach Sara Rohde. “Our girls are buying into getting after it on the defensive end, and we’re having early success.”

West De Pere head coach Chris Abaray was forced to burn two early timeouts to try and settle his team down.

Midway through the first half, the Phantoms got a spark after Jepson hit back-to-back triples to cut the lead to 31-20.

However, West De Pere went empty on its next four possessions and never could cut the margin to single digits.

With 3:19 remaining in the first half, Opichka connected on a put-back to move into third place all-time for most career points in a Notre Dame girls’ basketball uniform.

“I’m proud Sammy gets to play her senior year,” said Rohde. “She’s had a great career already with more to come. She’s a great leader and doesn’t care about individual honors, as long as the team keeps winning.”

The Tritons took a 43-24 lead into halftime and widened their margin to 61-36 after Hardwick scored on a hard take in the paint.

After Opichka banked in a 27-footer in which she did not call glass, she shrugged her shoulders and grinned.

West De Pere will host crosstown rival De Pere Saturday, Dec. 12, while Notre Dame will travel to Ashwaubenon Dec. 15.

Box score

West De Pere: 24, 19 — 43

Notre Dame: 43, 31 — 74

Phantoms: Jepson 13, Baeten 10, Thomas 6, Thomson 5, Buboltz 5, Konop 4.

Tritons: Opichka 26, Hardwick 12, Grzesk 12, Apple 9, Gregoire 7, Fayta 4, H. Barrington 2, Brabant 2.

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