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Notre Dame shakes off flu, beats short-handed No. 17 Toms River North

Erika Porter knew she had to step up Saturday afternoon, with some of her team mates struggling with the flu this week.

While the Notre Dame forward was dealing with a squad full of sick players, Jenna Paul and her Toms River North team were in much the same situation, and maybe worse.

For the Irish, the situation is starting to get better, but they have still been feeling the effects. Toms River North’s weekend has been a little more dire. The Mariners had just seven players for much of the game Saturday, at the Coaches Choice USA high school showcase hosted by Trenton Catholic Academy. 

Notre Dame took advantage in the third quarter, wearing down the NJ.com No. 17 Mariners in a 49-41 victory.

Porter led all scorers with 18, to help the Irish (10-4) continue to rebound from their short-handed loss Tuesday night to Trenton.

“We have had a lot of people sick,” Porter said. “But people still have to perform, no matter who is sick. We all have to pull through for our team. After that loss, we knew what we had to do, and show everyone who we really are.”

The Irish led 23-20 at the break, and then used a 14-7 run in the third quarter to open up a 10-point lead. Notre Dame then held the Mariners at bay in the final eight minutes at the free throw line, going eight-for-eight to ice the contest.

“We know we had to step it up a little bit, and bring up the energy and intensity,” Porter said. “We did that really well in the second half.”

Toms River North lost Friday night to Toms River East, when the Mariners wore down in the final quarter. They were outscored 13-4 in a 51-43 loss. So when they had to turn around and play 18 hours later, it was always going to be a tough task.

Jenna Paul had 17 points, after 23 last night, but it was not enough to overcome Porter’s and Leah Johnson’s combined 31 points.

“It was tough,” Paul said. “Notre Dame is a great team. We wanted to come out here strongly. We knew we had a few girls away, and a lot of us our sick, so we just wanted to play hard. 

“We knew it was a big game, and we had to try to fight through our sickness. We tried to do that. I thought we played hard today, and had a lot of energy.”

Kristina Johnson had 11 points to join Paul in double figures for the Mariners.

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