Notre Dame Lady Pios rally past Green Oaks
CROWLEY – For the first 11 minutes of Thursday’s Class AAA bi-district contest between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 30 Green Oaks, the Lady Giants looked poised to pull off a huge upset.
Not only did they storm out to a 15-3 first-quarter lead, but they led 21-5 with just under six minutes to go in the second frame.
But then the Lady Pios woke up.
Notre Dame, led by Taylor Simon and Alex Miller, went on a 9-0 run to end the half and outscored the visitors 29-8 over the final two quarters to rally for a 41-29 victory in front of a packed house at A.B. Dore gym.
The Lady Pios (28-3) will now travel to Tallulah to take on No. 19 Madison on Monday for a regional matchup at 6 p.m. Madison upset No. 14 Xavier, 54-50, in its first-round contest.
“I was real pleased with our ability to regain our composure,” said Notre Dame coach Nolan Theriot of his team’s come-from-behind victory. “Early on, we lost composure. They hit some shots and I think it rattled us a little bit. But I don’t think there was ever a point where we didn’t think we were going to win the ballgame. We were just a little confused about what we were supposed to be doing.”
Green Oaks had the Lady Pios flustered in the first quarter when they jumped out to a 15-3 lead. The Lady Giants then scored the first six points of the second quarter before the Pios cut the lead to 21-5 at the 5:40 mark.
“We played well at the beginning, but we just didn’t have that killer instinct,” said Green Oaks coach Shayla Canady. “We are a young team and we had a lot of nerves tonight.”
The Lady Pios got over their nerve issues midway through the second quarter. The Lady Pios went on a 9-0 run capped by a rebound and putback by Alex Miller with two seconds remaining to cut the lead to 21-12 at the break.
“I thought the key to the game was the last two minutes of the second quarter,” said Theriot. “We finally settled in. We went to a triangle-and-two defense and slowed down their two guards. At that point, I think they lost a little confidence.”
For the Lady Pios, cutting the lead to single digits at the half was a huge confidence booster.
“I saw a definite confident group at the half,” said Theriot. “We’ve been down before. We knew we had to just come out and take it one possession at a time.”
The Lady Giants hit their first and only shot of the third quarter with just over three minutes remaining to take a 23-16 lead.
It was all Notre Dame after that.
Three straight jump shots from Miller, Lexie Trosclair and Simon cut the lead to one (23-22) before Miller drained a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Lady Pios their first lead of the contest at 25-23 with 1:31 left in the third. Kylie Pannell extended the lead to 27-23 on a midrange jumper with 22 seconds left in the frame.
“Our defense was key in the second half,” said Theriot. “We went to a full-court, diamond-and-one (defense) which we’ve had a lot of success with, and what that caused was quick shots from them and transition for us. The defensive pressure helped us do the things that we like to do offensively.”
The fourth quarter was the Taylor Simon show.
“Typically we get early points from Kylie and Taylor has been the person kind of divvying out the ball,” said Theriot. “And we’ve had some of the other girls really pouring it on lately, so she hasn’t had to.
“Tonight, without having to have a major conversation with her, we had a moment where we kind of looked at each other and she understood. I was looking at her like ‘hey, you’ve got to do it or we’re going home.’”
The senior guard, who was held scoreless in the opening frame, responded by scoring nine of her game-high 18 points in the final eight minutes.
“The big thing is that the girls never really panicked,” said Theriot. “They never lost focus. Even when we weren’t as composed as we should be, they still had their eye on the prize and the felt like they could go out there and get it done.
“I think that shows the confidence in the girls and the confidence that they have in each other to just keep plugging for four quarters.”
Simon was followed by Miller, who hit two key 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. Pannell added six points and Trosclair scored two.
Theriot also noted that a huge key to the victory was the support from a packed house of Pio fans.
“We’ve never had a crowd like that at a first-round home game,” said Theriot. “And they were all there going for the blue and the red. I thought that was huge. If we are on the road tonight down 21-5, we don’t win that ballgame.”