The first time the Elmira Notre Dame girls basketball team faced Watkins Glen, the score was tied after three quarters before the Crusaders pulled out a seven-point win.
The rematch was far different.
Notre Dame forced 21 first-half turnovers and led by 18 points at halftime in a 43-22 Interscholastic Athletic Conference victory Thursday night.
Senior guard Sheridan Heine scored an efficient 17 points before departing midway through the third quarter.
“Watkins Glen did an excellent job the first game. They put pressure on us and forced us to play,” Notre Dame head coach Maurice Rankins said. “Going down the stretch the first game was a possession here, a possession there. This game right here the kids were mentally prepared. Our goal for this week was to be 2-0 at the end of the week, so we met that goal.”
Mia Herlan and Mackenzie Maloney added eight points each for Notre Dame (10-4), which led 12-2 after the first quarter.
The Senecas’ first field goal didn’t come until Madison Gates scored in the paint with 4 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Watkins Glen (7-8) had 11 turnovers in the first quarter and 10 more in the second, with most of them coming against Notre Dame’s tight half-court defense.
“Turnovers are what hurt us,” Watkins Glen coach Alicia Learn said. “We didn’t take care of the ball. We didn’t come out ready to play, I guess. Very cold in the first half.”
Said Rankins: “Just a little bit of pressure and hopefully we’re trying to get them to turn the ball over. We’re trying to work on things to try and get better every day, get better every game and see what our strengths are, what our areas of concern are and try to move to the next level.”
Heine scored 14 points in the first half and added a 3-pointer in the third quarter before Rankins took her and the rest of the starters out. Heine, who has signed to play at Division I Manhattan College, is averaging 19 points and has scored in double figures in all 14 games.
“Teams are playing box-and-one and teams are playing triangle-and-two (against her),” Rankins said. “One thing that’s being stressed to her by all the coaches is being consistent and persistent in shooting. Pick your spots in high-percentage shot areas to shoot certain shots instead of trying to force it.
“If you look at the beginning of the season how she was shooting and you see where she’s been at for really the last six games, the efficiency is there.”
Rankins got a good look at his bench Thursday with the Crusaders preparing for the stretch run. They have four games left before sectionals start.
“We have certain players who are going to come to play, but we’re looking at the role players to see what type of energy they’re going to bring to the court, what type of scoring they’re going to do on the court,” he said.
Victoria Goehner had eight points for Watkins Glen and Gates scored seven. The Senecas have two games remaining before sectionals.