Mount Notre Dame basketball coach Dr. Scott Rogers challenged his squad throughout the days leading up to Wednesday’s regional semifinal.
Instead of feeling like the hunted against Lakota East in the Division I district final at March 7, the Cougars were aggressive from the get-go Wednesday night against Kettering Fairmont.
Senior guard/forward Naomi Davenport had a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds and senior guard Dani Kissel added 18 points, three assists and three steals to lift host Mount Notre Dame past Fairmont 65-42 Wednesday night at Lakota East.
“Every day was just a championship practice,” Davenport said. “We made sure that we took every team step by step. We haven’t looked past the next team.”
The Cougars (24-2) certainly understand the challenge Lakota West (25-2) presents on Saturday night in the regional final (7:30 p.m. tipoff) at Fairmont.
MND defeated visiting Lakota West 54-50 on Dec. 1, but that’s practically ancient history for this time of the season.
Saturday night will mark the first time the two teams will meet in a regional final since 2007, according to the Lakota West sports information department. MND won that game 58-49.
Rogers said Saturday night will be another challenge, adding Lakota West (25-2) has five Division I college-level starters in its lineup.
Mount Notre Dame’s Maddy South shoots the ball during the Cougars win over Kettering Fairmount, Wednesday,March 11, 2015.
“Our kids will find a way to fight; they will find a way,” Rogers said. “They are tough and resilient. I know they are excited.”
MND had little trouble in the first half Wednesday night against Fairmont. The Cougars led 17-9 at the end of the first quarter and 29-18 at halftime.
“We knew we had to come in with energy and that’s what we did,” Davenport said.
The Cougars led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter (48-29) after senior guard/forward Nicole Crace made a 3-pointer.
MND extended its margin to 24 points at 60-36 with 2:46 left in the fourth quarter on a nifty play by Kissel. She went with a behind-the-back dribble move near the block and made a basket off the backboard.
Kissel said she felt comfortable early in the game and said Wednesday’s result was another memorable experience in the Cougars’ 11-game winning streak.
“It’s been great,” Kissel said.