TOLEDO – Toledo Notre Dame began the season with high expectations but has been the victim of some bad luck. Having already lost their best player to injury, the Eagles entered Monday’s game with league rival, Toledo Start, needing a victory to advance their league playoff hopes but were again victimized by upsetting news regarding a players’ mother.
The player’s mother had been admitted to the hospital shortly before game time with an undiagnosed ailment but the news had a definite impact on the team. With heavy hearts and distracted attention the Eagles were easily outdistanced by a surging Spartan team, 58-32.
The first half was an up and down affair. The visiting Spartans jumped out to an early 8-2 lead behind the 3-point shooting of senior T.T. Arnold but the Eagles came back with a vengeance to pull within one at 8-7. However, the Spartans scored six unanswered points to end the quarter with a 14-7 lead.
Neither team demonstrated particularly good shooting in the opening frame. Notre Dame made only 3 of 11 shots while the Spartans were only a little bit better at 5 for 15. The Spartans, however, took better care of the ball and hit for two three pointers.
The second quarter saw the Eagles battle hard to get themselves back into the contest and they appeared to be doing so but in the closing seconds, as the Spartans were trying to take some time off the clock, a brief defensive lapse virtually wiped out their second quarter efforts.
As time expired before the half, Start’s Francesca Adams hit a big 3-pointer from the corner that not only put her team up by nine but also foreshadowed the difficulties that the Eagles would suffer in the second half.
“We tried to keep the ball out of their point guard’s hands and in doing that we left the girl (Adams) open in the corner,” Notre Dame coach Rhett Boyd said. “And we were a little late in our rotation out of that. To her credit she knocked it in.”
The second half was all Start. The Eagles scored only 4 points in the third quarter, turned the ball over 7 times and shot a miserable 2 of 12 from the floor. Meanwhile, the Spartans put up 18 points and, until the final minute of the quarter, did not turn the ball over at all. The result was a Spartan 44-21 lead.
Looking at the third quarter collapse by his team, Boyd refused to criticize his team.
“It wasn’t a lack of effort,” Boyd said. “They tried. We had a good game plan going in. The kids tried to execute it to the best of their ability but give Start credit. I mean they played extremely well defensively and they gave us fits. You just have to tip your hat to them in that regard. “
The fourth quarter was anti-climatic. With a lead that approached thirty points most of the quarter, Start coach Rob Brown was able to get all his players, including several up from the JV, lots of playing time without jeopardizing the outcome.
Start’s win sets up a big match-up this Wednesday against Central Catholic. The winner of that game will garner the league’s No. 2 seed but Brown did not feel that his players were looking past Notre Dame in anticipation of the Central game.
“We have learned not to look past people,” Brown said. “We have Central on Wednesday. Hopefully we can play with them. This was good for us to come out and play these guys (Notre Dame) because they play extremely hard and they are well coached.”
Start’s leading scorer and rebounder was junior Yolanda Richardson. Richardson scored 19 points and pulled down 15 rebounds to lead all participants in both categories and T.T. Arnold added 14 points including three three-pointers.
No one for Notre Dame registered double figures.