Notre Dame-Crowley rematch highlights first round of girls playoffs
CROWLEY – The first meeting between the two teams went down to the wire.
The second wasn’t as close.
And the third?
That will be determined Monday evening when No. 10 seed Notre Dame and No. 23 Crowley High square off at Midland High School in the first round of the Class 3A girls’ playoffs.
Tipoff is slated for 6 o’clock.
Crowley High slipped away with a 36-34 home victory over the Lady Pios on Jan. 20 and the Lady Pios avenged that loss two weeks later with a 70-35 romping of the Ladies at their own A.B. Dore gym.
When the two meet for a third time Monday evening, Notre Dame coach Nolan Theriot is expecting another battle, much like the first meeting.
“I’m expecting a tight ballgame that could go either way,” said Theriot, whose squad finished the regular season with an 18-13 record. “In my opinion, Crowley is as tough a test as I can get in the first round. They are very athletic and they can play. It’s definitely a scary matchup.”
Crowley High coach Alton Allen feels the same way.
“Matching up with Notre Dame for a third time, it’s going to be a battle,” said Allen, whose team wrapped up the regular season with a record of 14-12. “They (Notre Dame) made it to the semifinals last year and they know what it’s all about. We’re still trying to figure it out as far as playoffs. But they are hungry and I think we are hungry as well.”
In the last meeting, Notre Dame was virtually unstoppable. The Lady Pios hit 22 of their 49 shots from the floor, including a 10-of-20 performance from 3-point range and a 16-for-17 effort from the free throw line.
‘They beat us pretty soundly the last time we played them so I’m sure they are coming in with a lot of confidence,” said Allen. “We gave up a lot of uncontested 3-point shots in that game and they did what good teams do - they knocked them down. We have to do a better job of protecting the perimeter as well as covering areas inside the paint.”
Notre Dame also did a good job of defending Crowley star forward Mercedes Rogers in the last meeting. The Lady Pios forced Rogers out of her comfort zone in the paint and had her on the perimeter for most of the contest in holding her to a season-low six points.
Theriot knows that will be a difficult task to repeat.
“A part of holding Rogers last game was that she missed a couple shots early. We were hitting everything we threw up, and she got a little discouraged,” said Theriot. “It’s playoff time. It’s one and done so I’m expecting her to come out firing.”
Offensively for Notre Dame, they key is not in the quantity of shots taken, but in the quality.
“We have to take good shots,” said Theriot. “We had better looks in the second game. We moved the ball better and we got better looks at the basket and in turn, we ended up scoring better.
“Our biggest goal is to continue to get a great shot every time down the floor. I think our kids can really shot the ball well if we’re not forcing shots up.”
Crowley’s success hinges on protecting the basketball, which has been a struggle for the Ladies all season long.
“We have to go in and do things better now than we have done in the regular season and in district,” said Allen. “We have to be more efficient at protecting the ball first and foremost. More often than not, we contribute as much or more to or losses than the other team does with our turnovers.
“But we are capable of playing with them (Notre Dame) and our girls know that. If we can clean up the turnovers, be more efficient at the free throw line and execute our offense, I like our chances.”
Lady Dogs earn
No. 1 seed
The Iota Lady Bulldogs have played yet another brutal regular season schedule and once again, it has paid huge dividends.
The Lady Dogs have played nine teams that earned top 10 seeds in their respective classes and have beaten all but two - Class 5A’s No. 1 seed Lafayette and No. 10 Hahnville.
They have defeated Class B’s No. 2 Fairview, Class A’s No. 3 North Central, Class 3A’s No. 4 Westlake, No. 9 Abbeville (twice), No. 10 Notre Dame and Class 4A’s No. 5 DeRidder.
In all, the Lady Dogs have defeated 15 playoff teams en route to a 30-3 record.
That body of work was enough to earn them the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A playoffs when the brackets were released Friday.
“Our schedule really paid off because we beat a lot of people that won a lot of games,” said Iota coach Stan Baggett. “We beat a lot of quality people and like I said, it paid off.”
But even with the top seed, Baggett is not taking anything for granted. His senior group has not been able to get past the second round of the playoffs the last three years.
And although Iota’s first-round game against No. 32 Catholic of New Iberia Monday at 6 p.m. doesn’t look to be a difficult one, Baggett isn’t overlooking anyone.
“It’s always nice to be recognized and go in there with the No. 1 seed, but everybody is 0-0 at this point,” said Baggett. “Nobody really cares about what you did in the regular season; you have to go in there and be ready to play.
“I like our draw, but it’s not going to be easy. We’ve got some tough games ahead of us.”
Iota is currently on a 19-game winning streak and is riding the momentum of a convincing 73-54 road victory over No. 8 Ville Platte. In that game, the Lady Dogs drained 15 3-pointers, 12 of them in the second half.
“We are playing our best basketball right now,” said Baggett. “The 15 3-pointers against Ville Platte was a good way to finish the season. We went through a little 4-game streak where we didn’t shoot the ball that well, but the last three or four games, we’ve hit double digits in threes and I’m hoping and praying that we’ve gotten our touch back.
“And I’m hoping that it carries over into the playoffs because there are going to be teams that we are going to have a double digit 3-point game to beat them.”
Midland Lady Rebels
to face Fairview
To say District 7-B was competitive is an understatement.
The league will be represented in the playoffs by all six of its teams with three of them being at home on the opening night, including No. 1 Lacassine.
Despite not winning a game in district, the strength of schedule coupled with nine non-district victories was enough to give the Midland Lady Rebels the No. 31 seed in Class B.
The Lady Rebels will travel to Grant Monday to take on the No. 2 Fairview Lady Panthers at 6 p.m.
In other first-round playoff action, Class C’s Northside Christian Lady Warriors earned the No. 24 seed and will travel to Reeves on Monday while Rayne, No. 31 in Class 3A, will travel to No. 2 Albany.