Lady Pios run past STM
Notre Dame’s Gabbie Romero drives the lane Thursday during the Lady Pios’ 50-43 victory over St. Thomas More in the opening round of the Midland Holiday Spectacular Tournament. Romero scored five points in the victory. (Photo by Christell Faul)
MIDLAND – St. Thomas More’s Cougars had the Notre Dame Lady Pios on the ropes for the better part of three quarters Thursday in their opening game of the Midland Holiday Spectacular.
The defending Class 4A state champions led by as many as five in the third quarter and took a slim 43-42 advantage with 3:33 to go in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately for the Lady Pios, STM’s offensive production came to a halt there.
The Lady Pios (7-3) went on an 8-0 run in the final three minutes, erased the deficit and slipped away with a 50-43 victory.
It was the Lady Pios’ second victory over the Lady Cougars (10-4) in the month of December. They defeated STM on Dec. 10, 44-25, in Lafayette.
“This was a very good ballgame,” said Notre Dame coach Nolan Theriot. “They did the same thing they did the last time against us, only this time they hit more shots. They did a very good job of executing their offense and knocking down some open looks.
“But I was pleased that we kept attacking the basket and we had several people step up and knock down some big shots.”
Sam Lyons hit a jumper in the lane with 2:47 remaining to give the Lady Pios the lead for good at 44-43.
Gabbie Romero followed with a driving layup and Alex Miller dropped in a floater in the paint to extend the cushion to 48-43 with 1:15 remaining.
The Lady Cougars had three fouls to give and Notre Dame’s ball movement made it difficult for them to commit those fouls.
“We were able to hit some timely shots and then once we took the lead and they had to step out and really play all five of our guys, we moved the ball well and they couldn’t even foul us,” said Theriot. “I think they were trying to trap us instead of play us man and our girls did a great job of recognizing that and just balancing the floor and getting the ball around.”
The Lady Cougars finally got their seventh team foul and sent Miller to the line where she calmly sank two free throws with 28 seconds remaining to ice the game.”
Notre Dame outscored the Lady Cougars 13-5 in the final eight minutes and held STM’s two leading scorers to no points in the final frame.
Allison Derise (18 points) and Courtney Chain (10 points) were held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
That was due partly to a defensive change by Theriot.
“We made a switch and put Hanna (Esthay) on Chain and that was a good move for us,” said Theriot. “Hanna was fresh and she had more size so that shut her down. And Sam (Lyons) did a much better job on Derise in the second half than in the first. She was all over her and we were switching on the screens better. So the players that could really score didn’t get the ball as much.
“Derise and Chain didn’t get the looks that they were getting in the first half. And when it got to crunch time, those young kids weren’t able to put the ball in the hole.”
Derise scored 15 of her 18 points in the first half while Chain had eight of her 10 in the first two quarters.
Notre Dame countered with a balanced attack that saw six players score on the night.
Madelyn LeJeune and Lyons led the charge with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Elise LeBeouf came in off the bench and pitched in eight points as did Miller, who also had 18 rebounds.
Esthay followed with six points and Romero finished with five.
“This was a clutch win for us,” said Theriot. “They (STM) are a quality team and they don’t have many losses and the ones they have, two of them came from us.”