Notre Dame Lady Pios lay claim to 5-AAA title

KAPLAN – Marie Ledet poured in 26 points and Kylie Pannel cleaned the boards with 15 rebounds as the Notre Dame Lady Pios routed Kaplan, 50-26, Tuesday to clinch the District 5-3A girls’ championship.

“I’m just so proud of the girls because they just work so hard,” said ND coach Nolan Theriot, whose team improved to 26-3 overall and 8-1 in league play. “We’ve been very competitive year in and year out, but there’s always been one team that was just a little more talented than us.

“I think what makes it so sweet this year is that we won it in a very competitive district. There’s a lot of teams that have consistently won district championships and it’s kind of a cake walk. Things earned are always much sweeter.

“I don’t think anyone would doubt that we didn’t have to earn it. That’s the sweetest thing.”

The victory gave the Lady Pios a two-game lead in the league with one game (North Vermilion at home) remaining in the regular season.

With the title on the line Tuesday, both teams were tentative and cautious to start the game. Pannel and Alex Miller set the tone with four boards each in the opening period and Ledet sank four of five free throws to put Notre Dame on top. Pannel and Lexi Trosclair scored buckets inside and the Lady Pios led 8-2 after the first quarter.

Kaplan made its only threat of the evening to tie the game at 12 with two minutes left in the first half. Then Ledet caught fire with back to back 3-pointers at the 1:30 mark and an offensive rebound and put back with 40 seconds in the half. Seconds later, Peyton Miller hit the first of two free throws and Pannel got another offensive rebound off the second and laid it back in for a 23-12 halftime lead.

The second half was all Notre Dame as Ledet launched three more rainbows to finish with five 3-pointers on the evening. She closed out the game with three of four free throws to cap the 24-point margin of victory.

“Marie had been consistent scoring for us but has been battling a nagging back injury and she had kind of lost a little confidence shooting the basketball,” said Theriot. “But she’s feeling better and she was confident tonight. She wanted the ball and we were getting it to her.”

On the other end of the court, Ledet spearheaded a double-team defensive effort that visibly frustrated McDonald’s High School All-American Tina Roy in her final home game for the Lady Pirates.

The Notre Dame defensive scheme of Theriot denied Roy the ball for most of the night and held the South Carolina signee to just 4-of-12 shooting and nine total points for the game.

“I think the most impressive thing about Marie was that she was one of two girls that we were using to shadow Tina all night,” said Theriot. “She was playing baseline to baseline and still scoring. She probably had the best game of her career.”

Pannel chipped in with six points to go with the 15 rebounds; Trosclair, Miller and Mallory Chaisson contributed four points each; Taylor Simon scored three and Mary Charles added two points for the Pios.

The Lady Pios are ranked third in the 3A polls and are expected to earn a top four seed in the playoffs which begin next Thursday.

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