Pannell powers Lady Pios past North Vermilion

Chris Quebedeaux

SPORTS EDITOR

MAURICE – For the Notre Dame Lady Pios, it was all about weathering the storm Friday.

The Lady Pios withstood a 20-4 run by North Vermilion in the second quarter and then fended off a rally in the final seconds to hold on for a thrilling 51-50 victory over the Lady Patriots in a non-district matchup of two of Acadiana’s top girls’ teams.

Notre Dame improved to 11-5 with the victory. North Vermilion fell to 16-2.

“We knew that they would make a charge at us,” said Notre Dame coach Nolan Theriot of North Vermilion, which trailed by as many as 14 early in the second quarter before ralling to take a 26-24 lead at the break. “They (North Vermilion) came back and took the lead and we didn’t falter. That’s what I’m most proud about tonight.”

Theriot was also pleased with the play of Kylie Pannell. The sophomore forward poured in a game-high 21 points, 15 of them in the second half.

“Tonight was kind of Kylie’s coming out party,” said Theriot. “She hasn’t been 100 percent healthy for most of the season but tonight, she was in the zone. She wasn’t hoping to make it, she was getting the ball knowing she was going to make it. She rose up tonight.”

Taylor Simon and Celia Charles led the charge early, combining for 10 points to help give the Lady Pios a 16-6 lead in the first quarter.

Simon and Charles, who finished with eight and 13 points, respectively, both scored in the opening minute of the second quarter to extend the lead to 20-16 before North Vermilion went on a 20-4 run in the final six minutes.

Brooke Romero drained three straight 3-pointers to start the rally before Mimi Bridges’ putback on a Romero miss gave the Lady Patriots their first lead of the game at 24-22. Notre Dame tied the game seconds later on a layup by Pannell but Courtney Chargois hit a runner in the lane to give the Lady Pats a 26-24 advantage at the break.

Both teams traded baskets for most of the third quarter before Charles’ layup in transition gave Notre Dame a 38-36 lead with just over a minute to play in the third quarter. North Vermilion cut the lead to one twice in the final seconds but both time’s Pannell answered with big baskets, including a long-range jumper from just inside the 3-point line at the buzzer to give the Lady Pios a 42-38 cushion heading into the final stanza.

Notre Dame led by as many as seven (50-43) with 52 seconds remaining before North Vermilion made another push. Morgan Breaux started things off with a 3-pointer. Chargois then made a steal on the ensuing inbounds play and dropped in a layup to cut the lead to 50-48 with 20 seconds left.

Pannell added Notre Dame’s final point on a free throw making Precious Louis’ layup with four seconds irrelevant.

“For a 30-second period there at the end, we started playing not to lose and things got hectic,” said Theriot, whose team had three turnovers late in the game. “But that’s more of a coaching mistake. We’ve worked more on our press defensively than we have on breaking the press offensively.”

Free throw shooting was also a problem for Notre Dame, as well as North Vermilion.

The Lady Pios went 7-17 from the charity stripe while the Lady Pats hit just six of their 20 attempts, missing 11 in the second half.

“The way both teams shot free throws tonight, I don’t know how either of us won,” said Theriot.

Notre Dame was just 3-for-9 from the free throw line in the second half but, Pannell’s last freebie was the backbreaker, giving the Lady Pios possibly their biggest win of the season.

“This was the game, as the season progresses and they kept winning, I pointed to,” said Theriot. “This was the one that I thought would show us where we were at this point. I really questioned whether or not we were strong enough to play man against a team that can run both on offense and defense and that everyone can shoot. But I think we proved that tonight.

“I think this sets us up for a big test on Tuesday against Acadiana at home and we’re peaking at the right time heading into district with Northwest at home on Friday.”

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