Notre Dame continues winning ways to secure berth in state finals
Submitted by Howard Owens on March 16, 2013 - 8:47pm
After a low-scoring first half, Fort Edward came out of the locker room ready to make a run at Notre Dame in Saturday's Class D girls state semi-final playoff game and managed to turn a seven-point deficit into a one-point lead.
That's when sophomore Emily McCracken seemed to take the team on her shoulders, hitting a couple of key baskets, playing aggressive defense, making steals and controlling the ball when it was in her hands.
McCracken was a substitute for team floor leader Melanie Taylor, who was in foul trouble.
"I’m like 'oh my gosh, no Mel,' " senior Riley Norton said. "But we’re a team where like all year we come together and do better. Emily came in and she did amazing. That’s just what our team is all about. We can step in and do the job if somebody is in foul trouble."
While being outscored in the third quarter 15-13, the fourth quarter was all Notre Dame, with Norton helping spark the offense, as the Fighting Irish put the game away with 13 points to four for Fort Edward.
The final score: 49-35.
The win puts the Irish in position to make a run at the school's second state championship in girls basketball (Notre Dame won in 1999) and the second consecutive state championship for a girls team from Genesee County (Elba won last year).
The game is noon tomorrow against Oriskany.
A consistent defense and strong bench were keys to the game, Head Coach Dave Pero said.
"Our bench has really, really been giving us some quality minutes," Pero said. "If you’re going to be successful up higher at this level, you’ve got to have that. You can’t win with five players at any level, but you come here and you get a little boost off your bench."
The two teams scored only a combined 19 points in the first quarter, with Notre Dame taking a one-point lead, and nearly four minutes passed in the second quarter with no scoring. The half ended 23-16.
The Lady Irish had plenty of open shots, but the ball wasn't dropping through the rim.
It was defense that kept Notre Dame in the game.
"I think our defense is doing alright if not the best we’ve ever done, so we definitely limited them," Norton said. "But we tend to start off either really, really good or a little bit cold. I think no matter what, we always push through and that’s what we did today."
In the third quarter, Taylor got her third and fourth fouls in short order so Pero was compelled to sit her down.
"We had to spell her as long as we could because she’s not, what do you want to call it, disciplined," Pero said. "She’ll get her fifth in 30 seconds if you let her. So we had to sit her as long as we could and as long as we had a lead."
Pero wasn't surprised that McCracken step forward to give the Fighting Irish a little spark.
"Emily’s been feeling her way, feeling her way all season long and all the sudden she’s popped into our game," Pero said. "She’s really given us a plus. She’s more confident handling the ball. We tell the girls right along, you got a shot, you’ve got to take it. I think once she realized she has the green light just like anybody else, that makes her more positive."
McCracken finished with six points, and Norton had 22. Laurie Call picked up eight and Emma Francis, six. Norton hit four of seven three-point attempts. Norton had 11 rebounds.
Taylor scored four points and seven rebounds and Shea Norton had six rebounds and McCracken, three.