The Toledo Notre Dame Eagles handed the Toledo Waite Lady Indians their only league loss early in the season but Indians pulled away in the final minutes of the second match up for a 68-58 victory.
David Gatwood has more.
TOLEDO – The Notre Dame Eagles handed the Waite Lady Indians their only league loss early in the season but back then the Eagles still had their University of Dayton bound senior Patrice Lalor to lead the way.
This time, few gave the Eagles much of a chance against the defending City League Champion Indians but the pesky Eagles hung around long enough to cause the Indians a few headaches before the Indians finally pulled away in the game’s final minutes for a 68-58 victory.
The new Start High School gym was the site for this year’s version of the City League Championship playoffs and provided a great stage. The Waite Lady Indians wasted little time in establishing that they were determined to defend their league title.
After an opening few minutes in which the teams exchanged baskets the Indians pulled off a 9-0 run to close out the first quarter with a 15-7 lead. Leading the way, as usual, was the Indians’ sophomore post player, Natasha Howard.
Howard scored 8 of the Indians’ 15 first quarter points and completely dominated the paint by pulling down 5 rebounds.
“Mark it down now and put it in stone. She's the most talented player I've ever seen come out of this area,” Notre Dame coach Rhett Boyd said. “I might be missing someone but she's as good as I've ever seen.”
The second quarter was nearly identical to the first. The Indians doubled up on the Eagles by outscoring them 12-6 and, in the process, increased their lead to 14 points, 27-13, by the time the buzzer sounded to end the first half.
As the crowd settled back to observe the second half, few in attendance anticipated what was to come. Waite had dominated the first half with seemingly little effort and most expected more of the same, however, the Notre Dame ladies came out determined to make a game of it.
Junior guard Jasmine Blanton was the offensive spark plug for the Eagles in the second half. By scoring 17 of her 22 game points in the second half, many of Waite turnovers that she forced, Blanton led her team to a comeback that nearly paid huge dividends. After trailing by double figures most of the game, the Eagles suddenly found themselves within 5 points of the Lady Indians, 47-42, with nearly a quarter to play and with the opportunity to pull even closer as they had possession of the ball but a traveling violation caused them to forfeit the ball.
The Lady Indians withstood the scare and put their game in high gear for the rest of the contest. The Eagles never seriously challenged after that point and the talented Indian crew coasted to victory over the final 7 minutes of the game.
With their win Waite moves on to face Central Catholic for the City League title. Central won the second game of the evening over Start, 45-41.
Waite’s Natasha Howard had a sensational evening demonstrating why she is considered by many experts as the state’s top sophomore player. Scoring 28 points and pulling down 19 rebounds, Howard was virtually unstoppable by the Eagles. Notre Dame freshmen, Erica Donovan, who is also a special talent, worked hard to limit Howard’s effectiveness but Howard was just too talented.
Joining Howard in double figures were Courtney Jackson and Kenya Middlebrooks with 10 each and Shantel Perkins with 11.
“I’m not satisfied yet,” said Waite head coach Manny May. “We can still improve and this game gave us a good idea of what we need to work on. We’ll be better next time.”