ASHWAUBENON - The Notre Dame girls basketball team likes to get up and down the court, score points and run down teams and for most of the postseason, that's exactly what the Tritons did.
But in the biggest game of the season, Notre Dame was forced to find a different way to win because New Berlin Eisenhower wasn't going to let the Division 2 state championship game be a track meet.
The Tritons had to grind out a win and lean on its defense if it was to capture its first state title since 2001 and that's exactly what they did.
Notre Dame outlasted Eisenhower, 42-33, at the Resch Center to win the state title despite scoring about 23 points fewer than it was averaging during the postseason.
"That was probably for everyone on our team one of the best moments of our life," junior Eliza Campbell said. "We did not expect that at the beginning of the year. We started playing for each other and at the end it was indescribable."
The Tritons led 14-9 at the end of the first quarter, but scored just five points in the second quarter as the Lions made life tough on offense.
In the third quarter, it got worse. After leading, 19-17, at halftime, Eisenhower scored the quarter's first seven points and led 24-19.
"I thought we were forcing shots," Notre Dame coach Sara Boyer-Rohde said.
The Tritons' offense was being bottled up, especially leading scorer Allie LeClaire, who had just two points at the time. Boyer-Rohde knew what had to be corrected.
"When they took the lead in the third quarter, we talked about getting the ball inside," Boyer-Rohde said. "I felt the girls did a real good job of being patient on the offensive end, getting the ball inside and getting better looks.
"We got wide-open layups off that."
And that spurred Notre Dame, which had averaged 65.4 points per game in the postseason, to finish the game on a 23-9 scoring run.
While the offense ran more efficiently, the defense never really stopped pressuring the Lions. Notre Dame tried to pick up the tempo with pressure and it also made sure Eisenhower didn't beat the Tritons inside.
"I knew they played tough defense and I knew we had to play tough defense," Boyer-Rohde said. "They take it to the rim and our goal was to make them shoot it from the outside."
Eisenhower was 13 of 47 from the field (27.7 percent) and 2 for 10 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, LeClaire, the Fox River Classic Conference player of the year, was held to five points, but her ability to break the Lions' pressure and set up the offense was key. LeClaire said her ankle that she twisted on Friday also had no impact on her play as she played 30 minutes.
"I think that we got the state championship is all that matters," said LeClaire about not having her usual offensive numbers. "I'm so proud of them. The ankle's fine."
LeClaire deferring allowed her teammates to pitch in, as Anika Johnson led Notre Dame with 11 points (eight rebounds), while Brianna Byrne (four assists) added 10, Campbell seven and Sabrian Rapisarda six.
"Our balance was amazing," Boyer-Rohde said. "Everybody stepped up in so many ways, everybody that went in contributed in some shape or way. That's why we're a very successful team, you just can't guard one person."
Notre Dame was able to pull away from Eisenhower at the end, so the players were watching the clock, waiting to celebrate. Winning a state title is a pretty good feeling.
"It was amazing," LeClaire said. "Everyone looked at each other when the clock hit zero. It's such an awesome moment."
- 3-pointers: Campbell and Byrne played all 32 minutes. … The teams combined for 16 turnovers and 15 assists. … Eisenhower has lost two straight state title games. … .
- Game ball: Johnson, who led Notre Dame in scoring and rebounding.
- Numbers game: 27.7 Percent shooting for Eisenhower.
Click on link for a complete boxscore: http://www.wiaawi.org/Portals/0/PDF/Results/Basketball_Girls/2013/d2game3.htm
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
Two Oshkosh North players had to be taken off the field in ambulances after colliding in the Division 2 championship game Friday, but their injuries apparently are not as serious as first thought.
Despite all its dominance this season Shiocton entered Thursday's Division 6 state title football game with a healthy respect for Darlington.
Gov. Scott Walker still won't say whether he will sign a bill making it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames.