PARKERSBURG — Both Notre Dame and Parkersburg Catholic entered Thursday’s matchup undefeated, but the Crusaderettes of Park Catholic were able to fend of Notre Dame and secure a 53-42 victory, handing the Irish their first loss of the year.
“The first half we ran offense and when we do run offense, we are pretty good,” said Notre Dame coach Bob Martino. “When we don’t, you saw what happened in the third quarter. We didn’t have any patience. We are a team who came in knowing Parkersburg Catholic is a pretty good team and we still have to realize we are a pretty good team too. One quarter killed us in that 20-4 third period.”
Overall, Henderson finished with five connections from downtown on her way to matching Aaliyah Brunny with 19 points. Martino noticed the positive momentum building in his player all night long and enjoyed the performance.
“Emilee is all about confidence,” said Martino. “She is a great basketball player and if she just realizes that we will be okay. Hopefully tonight she got that. She is a great shooter and drives the ball great. I am very happy with the way she played and not surprised.”
The Fighting Irish started things off with an offensive explosive first quarter. Emilee Henderson was the beneficiary of PC’s defensive lapses as she connected on four first-period 3s to help the Fighting Irish to a 17-10 lead after the first eight minutes.
The problem for the Irish was what happened after the first quarter. Catholic clamped down on defense in the second quarter and took a one-point advantage at halftime. Notre Dame scored just 11 points in the second and third periods combined.
Catholic’s Aaliyah Brunny overcame opening-half foul trouble for a 19-point evening as Madeline Huffman (11) and Madison Ross (10) joined her in double digits. And Marty Vierheller’s team as a whole shrugged off a sluggish first quarter on both ends of the floor for its sixth win of the season.
A 20-4 third quarter propelled the home team past the feisty visitors. The lanky defense of the Crusaderettes forced the Irish into a 2 for 11 period out of the locker room.
Not having an answer for Madison Ross caused plenty of pain as well. The sophomore forward scored six her markers in a 15-7 second-period advantage for Catholic. Her bucket in the paint with four minutes until the half proved the most damaging as the hosts never relinquished their only lead of the game.
Two of Taylor Martino’s 14-points on a basket with 2:50 left in the third period drew the Irish as close as they would be the rest of the night at seven points. Brunny’s put-back off a Jenna Boice miss during the Crusaderettes next possession kicked off a 12-0 run to end the quarter.
Notre Dame sets its sights on Lincoln as the first victim of a new winning streak when they face the Cougars at 4 p.m. Dec. 28.