Tritons cruise to a regional title
By Mara Allen
GREEN BAY – The Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball team dominated Menasha from start to finish to earn a 71-29 win in their WIAA Division 2 regional final on Saturday night.
The back-to-back defending state champions were led by their dynamic duo of juniors Gracie Grzesk and Trista Fayta. Top-seeded Notre Dame (25-1) never trailed fifth-seeded Menasha (16-9).
“I almost do feel like [winning regionals] is an expectation for us,” Notre Dame coach Sara Rohde said. “We know it’s not easy and it’s not given. We need to be ready every game to play.”
And ready they were.
Grzesk opened up the scoring, hitting a 3-pointer 20 seconds into the game.
Fayta sank a triple less than 2 minutes later.
The Tritons’ smothering full-court press caused multiple Bluejay turnovers early in the game.
After a Menasha timeout, Mara Rieder scored the Bluejays’ first field goal of the game on a fast break layup with 14:53 left in the first half.
NDA sophomore Peyton Musial got hot, hitting two 3-point shots in a minute’s time.
Though points were scarce for Menasha, it relied heavily on Rieder, the team’s leading scorer, to scrape up what they could get.
However, Notre Dame’s defense was too strong.
With 8:34 left in the half, the Tritons already held a 20-point lead, 27-7.
Grzesk picked up her second foul of the game with 7:30 left to play in the half. Rohde left her top player in the game.
Fayta and Grzesk found success inside towards the end of the first half, converting several layups and postups in the paint.
But with 3:11 to go before the break, Grzesk was charged with her third foul, sending her to the bench.
With Grzesk out, Fayta took full control of the Titans’ offense, not missing a step with their leading scorer in foul trouble.
Menasha found itself in the bonus late in the half, and the Bluejays converted four free throws.
Rohde put Grzesk back in the game for her team’s last possession of the half. The Wisconsin commit scored with 5 seconds, sending NDA to the locker room with a 43-18 lead.
On Menasha’s first possession of the second half, Rieder drew a foul on Grzesk, her fourth of the contest.
The Bluejays’ offense looked to be more comfortable in the second half.
Neveah Quinn sank a 3-pointer and Rieder converted a layup, cutting Menasha’s deficit to 20 with 16:27 left to go in the game.
NDA wouldn’t let it get any closer than that.
Fayta and Hannah Greisen hit triples for the Tritons, extending their lead to 30 with over 13 minutes to play.
Around the 12-minute mark, Grzesk re-entered the game.
She made her presence felt, hitting a triple and layup, giving Notre Dame a 64-27 lead.
Rieder converted a jumper with 8:18 to go — the last points Menasha would score all night. Soon after, Notre Dame extended its lead to 40, leading to a running clock.
As the final buzzer sounded, Notre Dame secured a 71-29 victory and a sectional berth.
“I was really happy with how we kept fighting and played as a team,” Rohde said.
Grzesk and Fayta led the Tritons with 16 points apiece.
Reider had 12 points for Menasha.
Notre Dame has its sights set on another state tournament appearance at the Resch Center, but they aren’t overlooking any achievements along the way.
“This is a great accomplishment,” Fayta said. “It’s a start to where we want to go. We’re just focusing on one game at a time.”
The Tritons will take on Fox Valley Lutheran in a sectional semifinal on Thursday at Ashwaubenon.