And for the second time, the Lady Wildcats held on to win on their home court.
This time, the Lady Wildcats rallied back in the second half and withstood a late Notre Dame charge for a 53-49 victory that put them in the early driver’s seat in the district race.
“Once again, this was two teams slugging it out for four quarters,” said Notre Dame head coach Nolan Theriot, whose squad fell to 20-3 overall and 2-1 in league play with the loss. “That’s three straight games against Abbeville that it has come down to one possession. We just gave up a few easy buckets, maybe three or four, and that was the key to the game.”
The third quarter proved pivotal in the outcome of the game. Notre Dame, after taking a 27-25 lead at the half, was held to just seven points in that frame.
Abbeville took full advantage, taking just their second lead of the contest (34-32) at the 2:58 mark of the third quarter before extending their cushion to 39-34 at the end of the frame.
“I didn’t get my point across of what we were trying to execute in the third quarter and that’s my fault,” said Theriot. “It was still nip and tuck, but I thought we had them on their heels at the half and then all of the sudden it just shut down in the third quarter.”
Abbeville’s Rechelle Bessard, who led all scorers on the night with 13 points, scored the first two baskets at the beginning of the fourth quarter to push the Lady Cats’ lead to 43-34 with just over five minutes remaining.
“We were kind of on our heels to start the fourh quarter and they scored two quick baskets,” said Theriot. “We were kind of in awe and in need of someone to step up and hit a shot.”
Mary Charles did just that. The senior guard answered Bessard’s back-to-back baskets with a 3-pointer from the corner and that gave the Lady Pios a spark. Mallory Chiasson then came up with a steal and hit Kylie Pannell for a layup to cut the Lady Cats’ lead to 43-39.
Unfortunately, Abbeville also had an answer. Wayna Briggs buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key and following an Alex Miller free throw, Ashantae Thibodeaux dropped a mid-range jumper to push the lead back to eight (48-40).
Sam Lyons came off the bench and dropped in back-to-back shots, including a 3-pointer that trimmed the lead to 52-47 and Marie Ledet drove the lane for two more with 10 seconds left to give the Lady Pios hope.
But Taylor Simon’s 3-point attempt from the top of the key fell just short as time expired.
“We worked hard at times and we hustled, but we had too many turnovers and a lot of them were unforced. That’s what is really hard to swallow,” said Theriot, whose squad committed just under 20 turnovers on the night. “And we have to make free throws. We went 12-of-19 from the free thow line, which isn’t bad. But what if we hit just two more of those? What if we have one less turnover?
“But it boils down to the fact that we didn’t make them work for every bucket. I thought if we would have done a better job of that, it wouldn’t have been as close down the stretch.”
Bessard and Thibodeaux paced the Lady Cats with 13 and 11 points, respectively, and Briggs hit double figures with 10.
Chiasson led the way for Notre Dame with nine points while Simon and Miller each had seven. Pannell, Charles and Lexie Trosclair each added six points; Lyons scored five and Ledet rounded out the Lady Pios scoring with two.
In the nightcap, Abbeville’s No. 1-ranked Wildcats broke open a tight game in the second half by going on a 32-19 run in the final 16 minutes to take a 67-45 victory over the Pios in the district opener for both teams.
Notre Dame’s BJ Vidrine kept the Pios within striking distance in the first half, scoring 13 of his 15 points in the first two quarters. He connected on three 3-pointers in the second frame as the Pios entered the intermission down nine (35-26).
Abbeville regrouped in the second half and went on a 21-4 run to take a commanding 56-30 cushion into the final frame. Ricky Stoma scored all four of the Pios’ points in the quarter.
The Pios outscored the Wildcats 15-11 in the fourth quarter.
Abbeville had 11 players score on the night. Tremone Williams led the way with 19 points and forward Jaquaylon Davenport added 14.
Vidrine was the high-man for the Pios with 15 pints and Stoma followed with 12.
Also contributing offensively for the Pios was Jeremy Smith with nine points, Drew Trahan with five and Kane Thibodeaux with four.
The Pios and Lady Pios will be in action again Tuesday when they travel to Leroy to take on North Vermilion in another 5-AAA matchup.