CROWLEY – The Notre Dame Lady Pios had the prize in sight and they weren’t about to let it slip away, especially at their home gym to a team that upset them a few weeks earlier.
So the Lady Pios, led by Madelyn LeJeune, Alex Miller and a swarming defense, avenged their only league loss of the year Friday and claimed the league title in the process with a 68-49 victory over South Beauregard.
The victory, which avenged a 63-77 loss, lifted the Lady Pios to 24-5 on the season and gave them a final league mark of 9-1.
South Beauregard fell to 22-8 and 8-2.
“This feels pretty darn good,” said Notre Dame coach Nolan Theriot, whose squad won the league title in 2010, but finished as the runnerup last season. “It’s not like we walked through a district where nobody can play.
“I realize from top to bottom, they (district teams) might not all be great, but Crowley is a good team and when you have to go through and play South Beauregard on the road and then play them over here in the final game of the district...
“We had to do some good things to win the district title.”
Theriot’s squad did a number of good things Friday evening, especially in the third quarter, which proved pivotal.
After slipping out to a 31-25 advantage at the break, the Lady Pios went on a 12-2 run at the beginning of the third quarter to increase their lead to 43-27 with 4:47 remaining in the frame.
Liddy Rothermel canned a 3-pointer from the wing to get things started. Madelyn LeJeune and Gabbie Romero each followed with buckets in the lane and Alex Miller added another 3-pointer.
“That’s the kind of three minutes coming out of the half we’ve been looking for,” said Theriot. “We’ve had some great games, but I can’t remember a time where we actually played and executed and shot as well coming out of the half as we did tonight.”
The Lady Pios onslaught didn’t end there, either.
Their defense forced the Lady K’s to turn the ball over on numerous occasions leading to six more points. Miller closed out the quarter by making three straight free throws after she was fouled on a 3-point attempt as the horn sounded.
“To be honest, from jump, one of the main plays that we had not been running that we worked on for this game, we came out in the second half with it. When Liddy knocked down that shot., I knew we were going to have a good quarter,” said Theriot, whose team limited the Lady K’s to just six points in the third quarter.
“We got a lot of hands in the passing lane and we seemed to always be around them. Whatever their adjustments were at halftime, they didn’t work.”
In fact, it was the adjustments that Theriot made that made the difference in the game.
The Lady Pios took a page out of South Beauregard’s book on the press break and the end result was countless layups for the home team.
“With all the stuff that we put in (for this game), we actually took their break that they were running against us and put it in,” said Theriot. “I studied film and saw that we couldn’t press them in a normal press. In a normal 2-2-1 or 1-2-1, they were flying up the court. So we implemented it and it worked.
“Basketball is basketball so beg, borrow, steal...I’m going to do whatever we have to do. All we did was put in their break and we got a little bit organized and it kind of energized us going forward. And so we weren’t going backwards, we were actually attacking the basket.”
With a sizable lead in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame scaled back the offense and, in doing so, the Lady K’s outscored the Lady Pios, 18-16, in the final frame.
In the fourth, LeJeune scored five of her game-high 21 points.
“Madelyn missed her first three or so shots when we played them over there,” said Theriot of LeJeune. “We were watching film and I told her that she was doing everything but finishing. I told her to take that extra dribble and shoot.
“(I told her) if you get fouled, you get fouled. You could tell from the beginning tonight that she was getting to the hole. She’s not a small petite kid but she slashes to the basket better than probably anybody else that we have.”
Another factor in the game was free throw shooting. The Lady Pios went to the line 32 times and they connected on 24 freebies.
“To me, the biggest stat to look at is that 72 percent from the line and you shoot 32 free throws,” said Theriot. “You knock down 24 of 32, you’re going to win some ballgames.”
Miller was 6-for-9 from the charity stripe and she finished the night with 17 points. Sam Lyons also hit double figures with 13 points.
Romero followed with seven points, Elise LeBeouf added six and Rothermel finished with four.
Morgan Dailey and Katherine Knox paced the Lady K’s with 12 points each.
Both Notre Dame and South Beauregard both find out their postseason fate on Thursday when the LHSAA releases its playoff brackets.
South Beauregard 45
CROWLEY – Notre Dame kept it close early on but South Beauregard pulled away in the second half and walked away with a 15-point victory over the Pios in the District 4-3A finale for both teams Friday evening.
The Pios trailed 15-10 early in the second quarter before Joe Stringfellow’s 3-pointer from the wing cut the lead to three. Tyler Simar followed with a jumper in the lane to tie the game and the Pios took their only lead of the contest (16-15) seconds later on a Hunter Meche free throw.
The lead didn’t last long, however.
The Knights went on a 7-2 run to end the half with a 22-18 advantage.
South Beauregard went on to outscore the Pios 23-12 in the second half to seal the victory.
Tre Milstead paced the Pios with nine points and Simar scored six. Brice Brandon followed with four points while Stringfellow, Meche and Alex Thomas each had three. Jacob Leleux rounded out the scoring with two points.