Tritons score school-record in victory
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – Nearing the midway point of the regular season, Sara Rohde has her team’s defense playing in postseason form.
The Notre Dame girls’ basketball team made its defense look so fluid and easy, getting steals and fastbreak layups as the Tritons cruised to a 106-39 victory over visiting Manitowoc Lincoln in Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) on Thursday night.
The Tritons racked up the school-record 106 points by converting on 41 field goals.
Notre Dame’s suffocating press defense is to thank for unofficially making 35 field goals inside the paint.
Defense has always been a staple for Rohde, who is in her 12 th season as Notre Dame coach.
“It’s something we’ve just been trying to work on, just bringing a lot of energy and effort,” Rohde said. “From my opinion and my perspective, I guess, it’s really obvious when we aren’t playing hard. So we’re really focused on just trying to bring a lot of energy and effort every game and play the same every game — have good habits, be disciplined, play how we always play and I thought our girls did that tonight.”
The reigning back-to-back to state champions in Division 2 are clicking.
“I think our defense is pretty strong, but I feel like there’s always room to improve,” Notre Dame junior Gracie Grzesk said.
Two of Manitowoc Lincoln’s main ball-handlers in the starting lineup were freshmen. The Tritons players wanted to exploit that inexperience.
“I thought we could absolutely get up and pressure them a little bit and just see how they handle it,” Rohde said. “Freshmen or not, that was just kind of our game plan as well.”
Offensively, Notre Dame had great balance with six players scoring in double figures.
“It’s great because we need that balance and obviously it makes you hard to guard and it helps you in the long run as well that these girls feel confident shooting the ball and finishing around the hoop,” Rohde said. “It’s a nice balance to have and I thought we did a nice job of sharing the ball. We talked about that before the game, just being fun to play with.”
Grzesk and fellow junior Trista Fayta each put in 19 points apiece. Sydney Whitehouse and Hannah Greisen, both juniors as well, scored 17 and 13 points, respectively.
“I think our offense has been working pretty well,” Grzesk said. “We have a ton of threats and it’s really hard to guard.”
With the game tied 3-3, Notre Dame (9-1, 6-0 FRCC) exploded on a 21-2 run as Peyton Musial, Hope Barington, Whitehouse and Fayta all converted on the easy fastbreak looks.
Manitowoc Lincoln (6-6, 3-4 FRCC) scored a pair of baskets before the Tritons went on another 14-2 spurt to go up 40-11 midway through the opening half.
With everything going right, Fayta banked in a 3-pointer just inside half court as time expired in the opening half to put Notre Dame up, 66-25.
With that big of a lead to start the second half, Grzesk and her teammates had to keep everything in perspective and take care of playing fundamentally sound basketball.
“I think just setting the tone for the second half, having a quick start and really just keeping them scoreless was our focus to start the second half,” Grzesk said.
The Tritons opened the half scoring 28 of the game’s next 32 points to break it open at 94-29 with 8:30 left to play. With its starters on the bench the final 12 minutes , 19 seconds of the game, Destiny Webster drained a 3-pointer to put Notre Dame over 100 points with 4:27 of a running clock.
“I think it’s just a full team effort for us to score that many points,” Grzesk said.
After falling to Pewaukee 68-67 in the season opener, Notre Dame has now rattled off nine straight wins.
Last season, the Tritons lost their season game of the season before winning 28 consecutive games to win the Division 2 state title.
“I think it does feel a little bit like last year in some aspects,” Grzesk said. “We’re a little bit younger this year and obviously it’s a different team. We had a slip up in the beginning of the year, and I think we’re improving each day now.”