PORTSMOUTH – The Notre Dame Lady Titans led against the East Lady Tartans at halftime by just three points, 22-19. They were 13-0 in the SOC coming into the game, and they wanted nothing more than to go undefeated in league play on the year. They came out of the half with a newfound tenacity and put the Tartans away by a score of 54-31.
The Lady Titans ramped up their defensive effort, allowing only 12 Lady Tartan points in the second half. They took advantage of their forced turnovers, too, as they ran the floor and put up 32 points themselves. Notre Dame limited East to a two woman game between Shay Brown and Peyton Helpinstine, while Hagen Shaefer had 13 points in the second half.
The game ended East’s regular season. They lose only one senior on the year, Sydney Dingess, and look to really make a splash next year within the conference as they return their two leading scorers Helpinstine and Brown.
“We were down early,” said Tartan Head Coach Walter Monroe. “We called a time out and they came out from there playing their hearts out. They played the best they could play tonight in the first half. I couldn’t be any more proud of them this year. Yes, we did get beat in the second half. But we faced a team that hasn’t been beaten in the league. We were right there with them tonight, and I’m just happy for the girls this year. We are getting better, believe me.”
“We have a lot to learn, yet, as a squad. They are willing to learn. We are a young team, we have the one senior in Dingess who we will miss, but we are coming together as a team. We have a good draw in the tournament so I think we are going to be playing for a while yet.”
East (9-7) is the sixth seed in the Division IV sectional tournament. They will face off against Manchester (1-15) at Northwest High School in McDermott February 10th at 8:00 P.M.
Notre Dame still has one game to play on the regular season, a matchup Saturday at Piketon. Coach JD McKenzie wants to get a win there and continue their momentum going into the tournament.
“We got off to a good start in the second quarter tonight,” said McKenzie. “The thing that hurt us early is that we had some very makeable shots in the paint that we missed. They should have been scores for us but they ended up going the other way in transition. We also did get in a bit of foul trouble in the second quarter. Ali Smith has pneumonia, too. She played a bit for us tonight, I was hoping not to play her any but we needed her tonight.”
“In the second half we were getting good looks and making shots. We also did a great job defensively in the second half. We managed to hold them to a single shot each possession. When you get Ragen and Hagen out in transition there aren’t many players who are going to catch them. When we can run we are exciting to watch.”
Notre Dame (19-2) goes back to back as SOC champions, winning the title four out of five years now. They are the second seed in the Division IV Sectional tournament and will face off against the winner of Clay and White oak. Their game will be played at Northwest High School February 13th at 1:00 P.M.
“From here we want to win at Piketon Saturday. Then we want to win the sectional title and start talking about goals after that. This group wants to go as far as we can.”
Reach Derrick Parker at email@example.com or on twitter @DC__Parker