Third quarter surge lifts Mount Notre Dame to fifth straight D-I state championship game

Image

Mount Notre Dame wing Kendall Hackney
Neither sleet, nor snow – nor blizzard – could stop Mount Notre Dame in the Division I girls basketball state semifinal game against Toledo Central Catholic.

With much of Ohio blanketed in snow and the state capital under a blizzard warning, MND got hot with a 19-0 third quarter run en route to a 66-51 win over the Lady Irish at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.



COLUMBUS – Neither rain, nor sleet – nor blizzard – could stop Mount Notre Dame in the Division I girls basketball state semifinal game against Toledo Central Catholic.

With much of Ohio blanketed in snow and the state capital under a blizzard warning, MND got hot with a 19-0 third quarter run en route to a 66-51 win over the Lady Irish at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.

The Cougars advance to their fifth straight state championship game and are on the prowl for their fourth state title in that span and are vying to become the first Division I team to win three state titles in a row.

Leading 30-25 at halftime in a fast-paced, up-and-down the court contest, MND began to execute its game plan to catch stride frustrating both the Lady Irish and their loyal fans.

“I challenged them at half. I challenged them to rebound. I challenged them to defend how they are capable of defending and challenged certain players and they stepped up in the second half,” MND head coach Dante Harlan said.

“(TCC) came out and threw the first punch and the second and the third and we finally fought back in the third quarter. All-in-all, the game went how I thought it would go.”

MND (25-2) connected on 29-of-47 shot attempts for a whopping 61.7 percent feeding the ball in the post with ease running back-door passes and getting easy layups as TCC put the defensive pressure on.

“We were surprised (TCC) tried to trap us and that caught us by surprise,” said Harlan. “The one thing that we did was space the court a little better going to a two-guard front and put our shooters out there and that seemed to open up the game.”

The Cougars had four starters score in double digits with junior wing Gabby Smith netting 20 points going 9-of-13 from the floor.

Junior forward Kendall Hackney tallied a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

“We just needed to stick together, that is the most important thing,” Hackney said. “We just played our best team defense we could. Once our offense started flowing and we got more layups, the defense converted. That’s where I feel like we got going.”

Senior wing Channing Hillman added 10 points and senior forward Tia McBride registered 11 points.

MND committed 15 turnovers in the first half but only coughed the ball up four times after the break.

“At halftime we just looked back at what we did and asked ourselves what we were doing,” Smith said. “We kind of looked at each other and picked each other up and we were all just able to come together in the end.

“I think it is a big experience thing because it was easy for us to just relax because we have been here before.”

TCC (24-4) was paced by senior guard Shariese Calhoun with 17 points and senior center Brianna Jones with 12 points and 10 boards.

But the Lady Irish shot just 32.2 percent on 19-of-59 from the floor.

“I thought our kids played well the first half but the run in the third quarter really hurt us and it is hard to recover against a great team,” TCC head coach Steve Pfhaler. “But to my kids credit, we never quit.

“It just seemed at times we couldn’t get anything to fall in the basket.”

Said Calhoun, “Our shots just weren’t falling and we weren’t getting rebounds like we usually do for second chances. Mount Notre Dame was on the boards and running the ball.”

MND will take on West Chester Lakota West for the Division I state championship Saturday, March 8 at 8:30 p.m.

Lakota West (26-1) defeated MND 61-55 in the season-opener.

The Firebirds are led by McDonalds All-American and Tennessee recruit Amber Gray, who was named Ohio’s Ms. Basketball award winner Wednesday.

“It is not even about playing Lakota West,” Harlan said. “We’ve played here enough times to know it is about playing for a state championship. To us, that is what is comes down to and it just happens to be Lakota West.

“They’re a great team and it is going to be a battle.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *