Team effort propels Notre Dame girls basketball to easy tourney win

Photo of Anthony E. Parelli

It's always nice to get off to a good start.

After one quarter in the second round of the Class S girls basketball tournament, No. 5 Notre Dame-Fairfield led No. 21 Putnam 20-1. What's even more impressive is that when the score was 12-1 Notre Dame coach Eric DeMarco subbed out all five of his starters.

DeMarco went to a two-group, 10-girl platoon system the rest of the way, eventually winning 55-16.

"We normally play nine or 10 kids," DeMarco said of the substituting, eventually adding a third platoon of freshmen. "We just wanted to try to work on certain things and survive and advance."

"Survive" is putting what the Lancers (17-4) did lightly Friday night at home. Notre Dame's success came in the paint where Putnam (11-11) just didn't have the bodies to match up. There were times when the Lancers passed on open jump shots to feed the post and forwards Nakia Mabin and Taylor Ceballos.

"Our inside game has been one of our strengths all year, it's something we work on a lot," DeMarco said. "Even the two girls that come off the bench, Gabby (Joseph) and Zuquila (Mbachiantim), contribute and we're comfortable playing all four of them, and all four of them have done good things for us at different times this year."

Before the contest DeMarco saw the possibility that it could be a trap game. Putnam was coming off a 34-30 upset at Amistad and Notre Dame had a first-round bye. But jumping out to the early lead was comforting for the coach.

"It's a long day waiting for this game," DeMarco said. "We came out pretty good and I was pleased."

Upsetting Amistad in the first round was enough of a success for the Clippers in itself. Putnam has lost 18 players over the last two season and only has one senior on the roster, who is injured.

"We've been trying to grow since last year," Putnam coach Mandi Hogan said. "The young kids came out and worked as hard as they could to get to 10-10 and win a state game. To get to the second round is a big accomplishment, so kudos to them."

Notre Dame will play Bolton on Monday in the quarterfinals looking for a bit of redemption as it was the Bulldogs who ended the Lancers' season last year.

"They have all their guards back and they're very talented," said DeMarco, who has seen Bolton play twice this year. "They have two very good guards that everyone knows about but the rest of the team hit nine 3s (in a game he saw), so we're going to have our work cut out for us."

PUTNAM (11-11)

Ashley Burke 1 0-0 3 Kira Clinkscale 1 0-0 2 Alyssa Espinosa 3 1-2 8 Rachel Calderon 1 0-1 2 Alyssa Frederick 0 1-2 1. Totals: 6 2-5 16.


Kayla Croswell 2 1-2 5 Aliyah Louis 2 1-2 5 Gabby Joseph 5 0-2 10 Precious Montgomery 2 0-0 4 Dayniera Artis 2 0-0 4 Nakia Mabin 2 2-6 6 Raina Ceryak 1 0-0 2 Zuquila Mbachiantim 1 0-0 2 Taylor Ceballos 6 3-3 15 Brittany Fulton 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 7-15 55.


PUTNAM 1 2 4 9--16

3-pointers: P--Burke, Espinosa.