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NDA heads to state for third straight year

By Janelle Fisher
OSHKOSH – For the third straight season, the Notre Dame Academy girls’ basketball team is off to state.
Winners of 27 straight games, the Tritons are just two wins away from winning a third straight Division 2 state title.
Top-ranked and top-seeded Notre Dame came out triumphant over No. 2-seeded Cedarburg, 88-58, at Oshkosh West on March 4.
“Every time we get to state, that’s always the same goal,” Notre Dame coach Sara Rohde said. “And the fact that they did it again, I think it’s just how hard they all work in the off season and that they play together — they’re unselfish and they deserve it.
Rohde is proud of the way her team played and doesn’t intend to change anything up as the Tritons move closer to another state title.
“We’ll continue to do what we always do,” she said. “Play aggressive and play together.”
Hope Barington, NDA’s only senior on the team, scored the first points of the game for the Tritons.
NDA junior and second-leading scorer Trista Fayta scored the next three points of the game with a field goal and a free throw before Cedarburg made it onto the scoreboard 2 1/2 minutes into the game.
Tritons leading scorer Gracie Grzesk earned her first two points of the game before NDA called its first timeout.
After a full minute of gameplay with no scoring, Cedarburg senior Ella Rolison scored a field goal followed shortly after by a three-point shot from Barington.
Holding onto their early lead, the Tritons scored an additional 12 points over the next three minutes with baskets from Grzesk and Barington and a 3-point shot each from Fayta and Sydney Whitehouse.
Cedarburg sophomore Mimi Hart scored one point for the Bulldogs before Notre Dame took back the ball and Barington, along with sophomores Hannah Greisen and Peyton Musial, collectively scored another nine points.
Ten minutes into the game, NDA held a hefty lead of 31-5.
Hart scored a 3-point basket for Cedarburg, followed a minute later by field goals from Fayta and Kaia Waldrop for the Tritons.
By the time Cedarburg called its first time out of the game with just under four minutes left in the first half, the score had increased to 39-15.
The Bulldogs came out of the timeout strong with two baskets scored by sophomore Sarah Helm and, after a point scored for NDA by Grzesk, the team’s final points of the first half were scored by senior Ella Rolison.
Whitehouse, Waldrop and Greisen scored six more points for the Tritons in the final 1 1/2 minutes of the half to make it 46-21.
After Cedarburg went on a 7-2 run, the Tritons called a timeout to regroup.
Fayta, Grzesk and Musial scored two points each with a field goal from Rolison for the Bulldogs in between.
Cedarburg then scored 12 points in a row, interrupted only by two free throws from Fayta.
The Bulldogs’ scoring streak came to an end when the team called its first timeout of the second half having decreased NDA’s lead, 58-39.
“I thought we got off to a strong start,” Rohde said. “We obviously got into some trouble and I thought we had some dips in maybe focus of just getting loose with the ball. We had some silly turnovers and maybe we just weren’t closing out real long on defense and getting them some easy buckets. But, in the grand scheme of things, when they got within 15, I think we countered right away.”
When the game resumed, the Tritons did, in fact, counter and scored a consecutive nine points from Fayta, Whitehouse and Grzesk.
The final three of those nine points were scored by Grzesk — the final three of just 12 points to be scored during the game by the Tritons leading scorer who usually averages 18.2 points per game.
Cedarburg scored two points for itself — bringing the score up to 65-43 with the Tritons still in the lead — before calling another timeout with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
The first four points back on the court were Cedarburg’s, until Whitehouse scored a 3-point basket for NDA.
Three free throws for the Bulldogs and a basket by Whitehouse brought the score to 70-50 with the Tritons still in the lead before another timeout was called with less than eight minutes left on the clock.
With the Tritons ahead 82-60, a pair of free throws increased NDA’s lead and also marked a personal milestone for Fayta — her 1,000th career point.
“Making it back to state with this team is a great feeling, but hitting an individual goal this year as well is just another great feeling,” Fayta said.
“I’m really happy for Trista to score her 1,000th point tonight,” Rohde said. “She works very hard and I know they all have their individual goals. And I’m glad it happened tonight and now it’s just kind of not in the back of her mind and we can just focus on the last goal of the season.”

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