Notre Dame dethroned Batavia as the Batavia Rotary Tournament Champions, 41-38 at Genesee Community College.
On Tuesday night, Batavia was able to overcome an early deficit to defeat Perry, but a slow start in the first quarter against Notre Dame doomed the Blue Devils in the championship game.
Notre Dame raced out to an early 7-0 lead to start the contest and held Batavia without a field goal in the first quarter. The Blue Devils went 0-for-12 in the frame and fell behind 14-3 after the first quarter. The Irish got a huge spark from senior Riley Norton, who after going 3-for-14 from the field on Tuesday, scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the quarter.
“I didn’t play my best on Tuesday,” Norton said. “But, I’m a senior and I wanted to come out tonight and help my team any way that I could. We know Batavia is a great team and tonight I was able to make some shots early.”
Batavia was able to right the ship in the second quarter, outscoring the Fighting Irish 15-8 to cut the halftime deficit to four. With the Irish keying on stars Tiara Filbert and Madison McCulley, Essence Williams led the comeback effort with nine of her team-high 11 points in the second quarter. Williams also knocked away a Notre Dame rebound right to Filbert, who laid it in just as time expired to keep the Blue Devils within striking distance at halftime.
“Offensively, Notre Dame did a great job of speeding up the game and we couldn’t handle that pace,” said Batavia Head Coach Bill Wade. “So, we decided to slow things down and play at an offensive pace that we were comfortable playing at and we were able to get back into it.”
In the third quarter, Batavia continued to scratch their way back into the game, cutting the lead to two at one point, before Notre Dame went on a 5-2 run to end the quarter. Norton would score five points in the frame, including one of her four three-pointers on the night.
“Riley is our senior and our go-to player,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Dave Pero. “She didn’t shoot particularly well on Tuesday, but tonight her shots were falling and she was huge for us.”
The Blue Devils once again made their push in the third quarter, but each time Batavia would gain momentum, the Irish would respond with a timely basket. McCulley would have to leave the game midway through the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury, but she returned with just over two minutes to play and made her presence known immediately by connecting on a deep three-pointer in front of the Batavia bench to cut the lead to 38-36.
Notre Dame responded at the other end of the floor, as Emma Francis hit a foul-line jumper to extend the Irish lead to four with just over a minute to play. After a Batavia free throw at the other end, the Blue Devils were able to get the ball back after a controversial turnover call in the waning seconds, but Notre Dame was able to come up with a defensive stand to wrap up the victory.
“It’s always great to win a tournament like this,” Pero said. “I always call this our mid-term exam, to show us where we are in terms of sectionals. Playing competition the likes of Batavia really gives us a good idea of where we stand as a team and how we can improve the rest of the season.”
Norton was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, adding five rebounds and four steals to go along with her 20 points. She was joined on the all-tournament squad by teammate Mel Taylor, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three steals for Notre Dame (8-1).
Batavia (8-4) was represented by Filbert and McCulley on the team, as Filbert scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds, five steals and four assists, while McCulley chipped in nine points on the night.
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