CROWLEY – The Notre Dame Pioneers rang in the new year in a big way Thursday evening.
The Pios, who won just two of their 13 games in 2012, rallied from a late deficit and slipped away from A.B. Dore gym with a 47-45 victory over Vermilion Catholic.
The victory sent the Pios to 3-13 on the season heading into Tuesday’s District 4-3A opener at Jennings.
“The biggest thing for me was to see the smile on the kids faces after the game,” said Notre Dame coach Donald Adams following the victory. “It’s a new year. Before the game I told the kids to forget about the past and good things will happen.
“We put ourselves in a position to win and we finally got the breaks.”
The Pios and the Eagles went back and forth the entire contest as the two teams went into the half tied at 19-19.
The third quarter was pivotal for Notre Dame. The two teams exchanged blows for most of the frame but the Pios were able to take a 33-31 advantage behind seven points from junior Tre Milstead.
Vermilion Catholic rallied in the final eight minutes and took a 39-36 advantage at one point before the Pios went on an 11-6 run to earn the victory.
“We put together a good second half and that was the key,” said Adams. “That’s the key. we have to be able to execute in the third and fourth quarter and that’s what we did tonight.”
Vermilion Catholic had one last chance to tie or win the game when they inbounded the ball with five seconds remaining. The Eagles drove the length of the court but Joey Faulk’s shot at the buzzer rimmed out.
It was one of Faulk’s rare misses on the night as he finished with a game-high 30 points, 20 coming in the second half.
“That kid really hurt us,” said Adams of Faulk. “If a player is hitting 20 points in the second half, we have got to do a lot better job on defense.”
Milstead had the hot hand for the Pios. The junior guard poured in 18 points in the second half and finished the night with a team-high 22 points.
“This was his best outing yet,” said Adams of Milstead. “He has like a 500 pound weight on his shoulder because we all look up to him for everything, especially scoring. He hadn’t been real consistent with that (scoring) but tonight, he was on.
“We depend on him a lot but it’s going to take all five of them to contribute for us to compete.”
Freshman Hunter Meche had another stellar night and finished with seven points for the Pios while Jacob Leleux had six. Tyler Simar added five points, Luke Habets had four, Brett Didier scored two and Alex Thomas had one.
In girls action, the Lady Pios dropped a 42-36 decision to St. Louis Friday evening.
The Lady Pios fell behind early but rallied to take a 28-25 lead after the third quarter.
St. Louis answered Notre Dame’s rally with one of their own in the fourth quarter and outscored the Lady Pios 17-8.
Madelyn LeJeune led the Lady Pios with 12 points while Hannah Esthay and Elise LeBeouf each had six. Gabbie Romero added four points, Liddy Rothermel and Sam Lyons each had three and Katherine Kirsch finished with two.