No Letdown for Notre Dame Prep in regional semifinal win

BEVERLY HILLS — Last Friday, the Pontiac Notre Dame Fighting Irish knocked off two-time the defending state champion Detroit Country Day Yellowjackets. On Monday, the Fighting Irish were back in action – on Country Day’s home court no less – in the Class B regional semifinals against a Croswell-Lexington team that came in sporting a 19-2 record. After trading blows early with the Pioneers, the Fighting Irish would surge ahead late in the first period and go on to a 53-46 victory.

“It was a great team win. Everybody that was on the floor contributed, and we didn’t have a let down,” Fighting Irish head coach Tom Kocik said.

Trailing 12-10, the Fighting Irish closed the first quarter on a 9-2 run to end the quarter with a 19-14 lead. Notre Dame would never trail after that and would go on to grind out the victory behind some tough defense.

The Pioneers changed defenses to start the second quarter, and it took the Fighting Irish some time to figure things out.

Even then, it was nip and tuck much of the night with Notre Dame generally keeping a lead of five to eight points through the middle two quarters. Offensively, the Fighting Irish struggled at times with turnovers and just didn’t get into much of a rhythm in general.

But while the offense struggled a bit at times, defensively the Fighting Irish were consistent all night. With Maura Kruse hounding the Pioneers’ best offensive weapon, Sydney Soper all night, Croswell-Lexington’s offense never got out of first gear. Soper would finish with a quiet 11 points and scored just five points over the final three quarters.

“I have to give a shout out to Maura Kruse,” Kocik said. “Their number four (Soper) is an amazing player and Maura just shut her down.”

Krause and Sarah Stuart would each lead the Fighting Irish with five steals as Notre Dame’s defense took away any flow or consistency from the Pioneer offense.

“That’s what we talked about. We talked about playing aggressive defense against them. We felt we could exploit that, especially if we could try to isolate their point guard. By isolating the point guard it forced the other players on their team to try to step up and to execute what the point guard normally executes,” Kocik said.

Notre Dame was led offensively by Bridget Hauck, who finished with a game-high 17 points and by Elena Schwegma who finished with 16 points – including 11 points in the first quarter.

“Bridget is tough to stop. She has the handles of a guard and she’s lanky enough to be the forward and center, so she was able to just attack,” Kocik said. “Elena can shoot. She plays all positions. She has the ability to post. She has the ability to take that jump shot, so she’s a dual threat.”

Stuart also reached double digits for the Fighting Irish, finishing with 11 points. Malorie Wilson added seven points and a team high six rebounds.

With the win, Notre Dame improves to 12-12 on the year and will face the Goodrich Martians (14-10) in Wednesday’s regional final.

“Goodrich is a tough team, a good team. We’re going to have to bring our A game. We’ve got some work to do to get ready for them. We’ve just got to come out and play Notre Dame basketball, and we’ll be fine,” Kocik said.

https://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/miprepzone/no-letdown-for-notre-dame-prep-in-regional-semifinal-win/article_6fe543de-4472-11e9-87d7-8f423b23a8d0.html

3/11/19

ND Athletics