Notre Dame girls turn close game into rout
By Greg Bates
KIMBERLY – Since losing in the second game of the season, not many teams have been able to slow down the Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball team.
Kimberly can be added to that long list.
Notre Dame used its balanced offense and pressing defense to score its 14th straight win, downing host Kimberly 82-54 in a nonconference game Thursday night.
The Tritons last lost at Appleton East nine weeks ago.
“(Our chemistry) was rough in the beginning, but throughout these games, it’s been good,” Notre Dame point guard Trista Fayta said. “If we keep working, we can eventually get to state. I’m excited.”
Notre Dame Head Coach Sara Rohde said she’s seen a difference in her team, especially in the last couple of games.
“We’ve come out with quite a bit of energy, and we’re focusing on getting off to a quick start,” she said. “We’re getting good inside-out action offensively. Defensively, we’re solid as well.”
Rohde said she liked how her team started.
“(In the) first half, we held them, and they had struggles scoring,” she said. “There were times we were matching back and forth. Overall, our defense was solid, and we forced them into some turnovers and made them play fast.”
Notre Dame came into the game ranked No. 2 in Division 2 in the latest WisSports.net Coaches Poll.
Post players Gracie Grzesk and Sarah Hardwick both produced, scoring 17 and 14 points, respectively.
“The plan going in was to get the ball into the post,” Rohde said. “(Kimberly) has (Ali) Sprangers, who is tall, but she is more of a perimeter player, and Sarah (Hardwick) is a presence. She draws so much attention, and it opens it up for everybody else. You have to pick your poison — are you going to guard our shooters, or are you going to guard (Hardwick)? When they came out on our shooters, it opened up for her.”
Hope Barington scored 14 points, and Sydney Whitehouse added 10 for Notre Dame.
Fayta, who came into the game averaging 9.9 points per game, was effective outside, hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the opening half and was a force getting to the basket.
The sophomore finished with a team- and career-high 19 points.
“We talked about that last game about how she didn’t attack,” Rohde said. “At times, her job is to advance the ball, but also if she’s not getting stopped, she needs to look to attack the hoop, too. I thought she did a nice job of that tonight.”
Notre Dame (15-1) was in a back-and-forth battle early, as Kimberly (11-6) took a 16-14 lead with 4:44 remaining in the opening half.
The Tritons scored the next 11 points, as Barington nailed a 3-pointer, and Fayta put up eight quick points that included a pair of balls from beyond the 3-point arc.
A 22-7 run put Notre Dame ahead 36-23 at halftime.
Fayta said she credits hard work on both ends of the court for the swing in momentum.
“We knew this was going to be a good game, and if we did what we could do, we knew we could pull it off,” she said.
Notre Dame didn’t waste any time coming out of the half, going on a 17-8 run — which stretched its overall run to 39-15 going back to the first.
Whitehouse splashed two 3-pointers during that game-altering push.
The Tritons hit their first seven shots and 12-of-14 coming out of the locker room.
“We got good looks in transition,” Rohde said. “We had good looks in our offense, and I was happy with how we moved the ball and worked for shots we wanted to take.”
Notre Dame won’t have much time for rest with Green Bay Preble coming to town Friday and undefeated Waupun making its way north Monday.
Waupun, 18-0, is the top-ranked team in Division 3.