Notre Dame Pios hold off North Vermilion in 5-AAA action

LEROY – Notre Dame’s Pios have struggled in the second half of games all season long and Tuesday evening, it looked as if that would be the case again in their District 5-AAA road contest against North Vermilion.

The Pios took a 27-18 lead at the break, but the Patriots were able to trim the lead to two (34-32) heading into the final stanza.

But unlike other games, Tuesday, the Pios weren’t to be denied.

Notre Dame went toe-to-toe with the Patriots in the fourth quarter, outscoring North Vermilion 18-16 in the final eight minutes to claim a much needed 52-48 victory.

“This was a big win for us,” said Notre Dame coach Raymond Griffin, whose squad improved to 9-11 on the year and 1-1 in league play. “We were on a five-game (losing) skid there. I have to give all the credit to our kids. They came out and played their tails off tonight.”

Notre Dame and North Vermilion went back and forth in the final stanza with the Pios taking a 45-43 advantage with 2:11 remaining. BJ Vidrine then connected on a 3-pointer from the wing to increase the cushion to five.

North Vermilion closed the gap to two on a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Ben James with five seconds remaining before Vidrine put the game away with two clutch free throws.

Vidrine scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter.

“BJ shot the ball well tonight,” said Griffin. “He was held scoreless in the second and third quarters, but they did a good job of switching and getting some help on him.”

Ricky Stoma also played a big role in the Pios’ victory. The senior forward scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half and also finished with 12 rebounds on the night.

“Ricky played really well,” said Griffin. “He was making turnaround fade-aways, playing with his back to the basket.”

However, the Pios inability to get much offensive production in the third quarter is still a worry for Griffin. The Pios hit just two shots from the floor in the frame, a 3-pointer from Jeremy Smith and a jumper in the lane from Kane Thibodeaux. Notre Dame’s only other points came on a pair of free throws from Thibodeaux.

“We have to start executing a little better out of halftime,” said Griffin. “For lack of a better term, our team is a little immature. If we’re down coming out of halftime, we come out great. If we’re up, we come out all happy, thinking that we won the game. The game is 32 minutes long and you have to play hard for 32 minutes.”

The Pios jumped out to a 12-8 lead in the first quarter behind two 3-pointers from Vidrine and four points from Stoma off the bench.

Stoma gave the Pios a spark in the second quarter with eight points while Thibodeaux scored five on a midrange jumper and a 3-pointer.

Thibodeaux and Smith each scored nine points in the victory while Stu Cook and Drew Trahan each scored two.

James paced North Vermilion with 18 points.

Notre Dame was a winner in the girls’ game as well.

The Lady Pios outscored the Lady Patriots 22-6 in the second quarter and coasted to a 50-27 victory.

The Lady Pios trailed 6-5 after the first quarter before their offensive outburst in the second quarter that gave them a 27-12 advantage at the break.

“We settled in with our pressure and we gave them a lot of problems in the second quarter,” said ND coach Nolan Theriot, whose squad forced numerous turnovers in the second frame. “Overall in the second quarter, we kind of imposed our will.”

Mary Charles sparked the Lady Pios’ second-quarter run by scoring all eight of her points in the frame while also logging three of Notre Dame’s 21 steals on the night. Charles also had three rebounds, one assist.

Taylor Simon led the charge in the second half, scoring 11 of her game-high 17 points in the final 16 minutes. Simon also logged nine steals, six rebounds and four assists.

Alex Miller also had a big game, scoring eight points to go along with five rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots.

Also contributing in the victory were Kylie Pannell with six points, Peyton Miller and Lexie Trosclair with four each and Sam Lyons and Marie Ledet with two each.

The victory ended a three-game losing skid to North Vermilion, which knocked off the Lady Pios twice in district play before knocking them out of the playoffs last year with a 54-49 victory in the first round.

“We started a little slow, but even with that start, there wasn’t a kid on the bench or on the floor that thought we weren’t going to win the game,” said Theriot. “Even when we were struggling, you could just see our confidence and I think that was a major difference between this year’s game and last year’s games.”

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