Notre Dame's girls had a chance a week ago to pretty much stake their claim to the Division II-A East District 2 high school basketball regular-season championship, yet Silverdale Baptist Academy had other ideas and protected its home court. But Tuesday at Notre Dame, on senior night, the Lady Irish didn't let their second chance slip away.
Notre Dame got its payback in a big way in the form of a 60-37 victory that clinches the No. 1 seeding for the district tournament, which starts Monday. Thursday's semfinals and Friday's third-place games and championships will be played at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame coach Jason Hill sensed things weren't right with his team before the four-point road loss to the Lady Seahawks, who by winning Tuesday would have secured the district tournament's top seeding. Hill also sensed things were different this time around.
"Honestly, our preparation leading up to that first game against Silverdale was not good," Hill said. "We had a couple of bad practices. Even the day of the game I felt we weren't ready to go. But we took that loss and instead of making it a negative, we got back at it the next day. We learned a lesson and we recharged our batteries.facebook
"The week of preparation leading up to today was phenomenal. Mentally, physically we were prepared, and we got the job done."
The game was 15 seconds old when Jada Sims connected from out front to give the Lady Irish a 3-0 lead, and they added five more 3s in building a 34-18 halftime lead. Point guard Kate Ford, who drew praise from Silverdale coach Victor Underwood for her stellar play all season, scored 11 consecutive points for Notre Dame (20-8, 8-1) beginning with a 3 to close the first-quarter scoring. Then Averie Sheppard had the Lady Irish's final nine points of the half, all from outside the arc.
"Notre Dame played a lot better tonight," Underwood said. "They shot the ball really well. Their defense was better. They started off the game with a couple of girls getting hot early, and we couldn't get back in it."
Underwood said he was pleased with his team's interior defense, but the struggle was the inability to simultaneously close in on the perimeter shooters. In the second half the Lady Seahawks tried some full-court pressure but to not much avail.
"It's just not what we do all the time," Underwood said. "Against a good team like that, that takes care of the ball, they'll turn it into layups. I feel like they have the best team in our district. They'll be the favorite, the team everybody is chasing."
Ford led the win with 16 points. Sheppard totaled 11 and Sims had eight.
Audrey Canter paced Silverdale (13-9, 6-3) with 14 points. Maddie Caldwell scored her seven points in the first half.
"We kind of had an off night shooting the ball over there," Hill said. "Tonight we hit some shots, and that made the defense a little more fired up. The ball goes in a few times and all of a sudden we're playing great defense. I thought they responded very well. We'll see if this carries over into the tournament."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.