In an effort to defeat Batavia's anticipated press in the Rotary Tournament championship game Thursday night, Dave Pero gave his girls a great plan -- quick passes down court to open shooters.
The Fighting Irish got a lot of open shot opportunities in the first half of the game. The part of the plan that didn't work is that too few baskets went through the hoop.
In the end, the Blue Devils prevailed in the defensive battle of rivals, 41-33.
"A game like this is great for us come sectional time," said Notre Dame Head Coach Dave Pero. "We're not going to see a team in our sectional bracket that presses like Batavia, so it's a great lesson we learned tonight of how to handle it."
Pero thought his team handled it pretty well, even mounting a bit of a comeback in the 4th quarter that had to make Batavia supporters a little nervous, but Batavia answered and held off the Fighting Irish charge to avenge defeats in the previous two Rotary tournaments.
"These guys hate me at practice, as hard as we run, but there's a reason," said Marty Hein, Batavia's head coach. "In the second half, and we don't turn the ball over any worse than we do in first half, but we seem to force more in the second half than anybody else. I think that gives us an edge."
Hein tightened his defense during half time, putting more pressure on Notre Dame at half court, which took away passing lanes and made it harder for offensive players to get behind his defenders. It created more turnovers.
Pero said his team was ready and primed for this game, but Batavia just did a little bit better.
"We had a great practice yesterday, perhaps one of the best practices we've had," Pero said. "Did we do a lot with the basketball? We did a little bit. We did a lot of talking. The girls were upbeat. They were responsive. When we got to the locker room upstairs, they were focused. When you get girls that are focused, a team like that, I don't care if they're boys or girls, win or lose, that's when you've got to give them credit for the way they prepared. They were awesome. They were ready for what they were going to give us, we just fell short. Next week is another week."
Hein said he and his team thought they were going to do a lot better.
"We're a little down, because we thought we should play better, myself included, but that's just a credit to them and their coach," Hein said.
Tiara Filbert, Batavia, was tournament MVP and scored 22 points Thursday. No other Blue Devil got into double figures. Essence Williams scored eight.
Shea Norton led Notre Dame with 10 points. Taylor DiMartino and Emma Francis each had eight.
(Filbert and Norton in the top photo)
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