State champs! Notre Dame girls take home title
By Rich Palzewic
LA CROSSE – The Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball team won its fourth state title overall with a 68-56 victory over Reedsburg Feb. 27 in the WIAA Division 2 state championship.
The Tritons, the No. 1-ranked team in the state, finished the year 28-1.
The Tritons also won titles in 2001, 2013 and 2014.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WIAA changed the format of the girls’ state tournament this season.
Instead of all games being played at the Resch Center in Green Bay, the tournament was split into two different locations: La Crosse and Oshkosh.
It was also decided both the state semifinal and title game would be played on the same day.
Notre Dame jumped out to an 11-2 lead after Sammy Opichka knocked down a 3-pointer.
Reedsburg went on a 24-10 run to take a 26-21 lead with seven minutes remaining in the half, but the Tritons closed out the first 18 minutes of play strong, grabbing a 42-35 lead at the break.
Freshman Sydney Whitehouse scored 11 points in the first half for Notre Dame.
Coming into the game, Whitehouse’s career-high in points was six.
In the second half, Reedsburg took a 46-44 lead five minutes in after it went on an 11-4 spurt.
The game was tied, 50-50, with 10:30 remaining, but the Tritons ended the game on an 18-6 surge to close out the win.
The Tritons advanced to the finals with a 64-32 victory over Onalaska earlier in the morning in the semifinals.
It was Rohde’s 200th win overall as Notre Dame head coach.
The Tritons, who took a 31-20 lead into halftime, led by many as 16 in the first half.
Gracie Grzesk, who led the Tritons with 16 points overall, had nine points at the break, while Georgia Gregoire added eight before halftime.
Sammy Opichka added 12 points overall for Notre Dame.
Sarah Hardwick chipped in with eight points, four rebounds and four steals for the Tritons, who had 17 total steals as a team.
The Tritons shot 54 percent from the floor (27-of-50) but were 0-12 from the 3-point line.