Grzesk, Fayta set records together
Juniors pace top-ranked NDA squad
By Jordon Lawrenz
GREEN BAY – The Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball team’s recent 89-16 victory over the Sheboygan South will be one the players won’t forget anytime soon.
Juniors Gracie Grzesk and Trista Fayta both cemented their names in the history books.
Grzesk, a University of Wisconsin commit, became the fifth player in Notre Dame history to score 1,000 career points. Fayta, an Illinois State University commit, set Notre Dame’s all-time assist record with her 420th helper.
Sara Rohde’s squad, ranked No. 1 in Division 2, has won back-to-back Division 2 state championships and is looking for the three-peat. The Tritons’ only loss so far was in their season opener, falling 68-67 to state-ranked Pewaukee.
“I’m really happy with how our team has been playing recently,” Rohde said. “The girls are playing good team basketball and shining in the roles we are asking of them.”
On a team where five different players are averaging double-digit points per game, Fayta is shining as the facilitator.
“My first couple of years of high school I was more of a role player,” Fayta said. “This year, I’ve stepped more into a scoring and facilitator role.” While Jan. 10 was a special night for the program with those individual records accomplished, Grzesk went into it like any other game,
“I knew I was close to hitting 1,000 points, but I didn’t approach it any differently and I wasn’t really nervous,” she said.
Grzesk joins Brianna Byrne, Bethani Hyska, Sammy Opichka and Allie LeClaire as 1,000-point scorers. LeClaire sits atop the list with 1,536 career points.
“It felt great to score my 1,000th point this year,” Grzesk said. “It was one of my goals going into the season. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my teammates and coaches putting me in a position to be successful.”
Coach Rohde knew that history awaited Grzesk against Sheboygan South.
“We always have our normal game plan but knew she was so close, and the girls were trying to put her into a position to score those four points,” Rohde said. “I think we all just wanted it to happen, and we intentionally ran a few plays to help her achieve it.”
In an era where everyone wants to score as much as possible, Fayta had a different record around the horizon.
“I went into the game knowing that I could possibly hit the all-time assist record when coach Rohde told me that I was within striking distance,” said Fayta, who broke Olivia Campbell’s school record of 419 assists. “Once the game started, I went to work.”
One of Fayta’s best traits is getting everyone on the team involved, but her teammates also know how much of a threat she can be on offense.
“We had to yell at her to shoot more last year,” Rohde said. “Trista can score, but she has always done whatever the team needs to be successful. I think everyone in our program appreciates her style of play and I hope a lot of young basketball players are watching because passing is a skill that is really underrated nowadays.”
Seeing as Grzesk and Fayta are both already committed to Division I universities, no one can deny the talent on Rohde’s squad.
Rohde had great things to say about everyone on the team, but the underclassmen are really shining bright.
“The most impressive thing about Gracie is her consistency over the past two and a half years,” Rohde said. “As an underclassman, she was very capable and able to contribute early so it was evident that she was moving at a decent clip to reach 1,000 points early in her career. She is a very driven young lady and has been surrounded by some amazing teammates.”
One of those amazing teammates is the lone senior on the squad this season, Hope Barrington. She is one of five players to average more than 10 points per game on the year. G
“I think we have a very deep bench this year that we can use to our advantage,” Grzesk said. “On and off the court the chemistry is great, and we continue to push each other to improve.
“Winning has been a lot of fun but we don’t take it for granted. We still have a lot of goals we want to accomplish this year and coach Sara continues to challenge us to be better every day.”
Team chemistry is a huge indicator of success, which is something that Fayta was quick to mention as well.
“I think something that makes this team special is how a handful of us have been playing together for a while and each year we get new players that get the chance to mesh their talents into the team,” she said.
Even though it’s the underclassmen setting the records, they show tremendous poise and aren’t letting the moment get the best of them. The players continue to remain humble even on the back end of winning two state championships in a row. But the girls know the work is just beginning.
“Our goal is to win a state championship again this year.” Grzesk said. “I think as a team our motto this year is ‘One By One’ — taking everything one at a time. That’s really our entire focus.”
Fayta echoes the goal for another state title.
“A team goal a litte down the road is to win state a couple more times while I’m in high school,” Fayta said.
While Fayta was thrilled to set the assist record, she has another goal on her mind.
“An individual goal for myself is to reach 1,000 points at the end of my junior year and keep expanding the assist record.” Fayta, who is averaging a team-leading 18.3 points per game as of Jan. 16, needs fewer than 250 points to hit 1,000.
At the end of the day, Grzesk knew she wouldn’t be at the point she is today without her support system.
“I’ve been fortunate to have had great teammates in AAU and high school,” she said. “I’m also thankful for having some of the best coaches (my parents) for AAU, and coach Sara along with the assistant coaches here at Notre Dame.”