After a slow start, the Notre Dame girls basketball team found its way - to a Section III Class C banner.
“Losing in the first round last year, to sectional champions this year is unbelievable,” junior forward Kate Durr said.
Notre Dame's first girls basketball championship in nine years came after a 56-41 victory Saturday over Thousand Islands at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
Notre Dame (17-5), which last won a Section III title in 2001, plays the Section IV champion in a state regional game next Saturday at a Section III site to be determined.
After a shaky first quarter, Notre Dame got back into the game in the second with defense, foul shooting and Emily Durr.
Durr, the eighth-grade leading scorer and Kate's sister, made her presence known in the second half. Durr scored nine points after going scoreless in the first quarter and sitting on the bench with two fouls.
She finished near her average with a team-high 18 points one day before her 14th birthday. Kate Durr scored five points and had eight rebounds.
“I think defense gave us a lift,” Emily Durr said. “Defense gave us a lift and then it was more up-tempo.”
Defense has been the Jugglers' staple all season. Without a dominant post presence, Notre Dame relies on its aggressive, in-your-face defense to set up its running, high-octane offense.
In the second quarter, Notre Dame outscored Thousand Islands 21-12, using a 15-5 run in the first two minutes.
Notre Dame used that run to maintain its momentum through the third. The Jugglers' rebounding grew more important in the second half, led by Haley Sehring's 14 boards. she also scored nine points.
The Jugglers were able to get out in transition and they helped themselves shooting 8 of 9 from the foul line. Notre Dame shot 18-for-25 from the line for the game.
“That's very good for us,” said Notre Dame coach Michael Plonisch.
For the rest of this story, check out the Utica OD.