In her 24th season as Sacred Heart Academy’s basketball coach, Donna Moir can’t remember a time when she was so reliant on so many freshmen.
In their first appearance in the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Louisville Invitational Tournament on Tuesday, the youngsters showed why the Valkyries’ future is considered so bright.
Freshmen Grace Berger and Kiki Samsel both scored 13 points and three other newcomers made contributions as Sacred Heart rolled past Pleasure Ridge Park 53-24 in a first-round game at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall.
“I’m not afraid to play them,” Moir said. “They’re very talented and they’re not intimidated. They win their spots every day in practice, so I’m going to play the best players.”
Senior guard Ashley Johnson added eight points and four rebounds as Sacred Heart (14-5) advanced to face Eastern in a second-round game at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Valkyries have won 11 of their past 12 games after a 3-4 start.
Berger, who added a team-high eight rebounds, said the freshmen aren’t intimidated.
“We’ve played together a lot before, so we’re used to playing together,” she said. “We’re going better than we thought we probably would. I’ve been coming to watch the LIT since I was in the third grade, so it was cool to play on Bellarmine’s court.”
Freshmen Cierra Scott, Kia Sivils and Natalie Fichter scored four points apiece for the Valkyries.
Leslie Fries had 13 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks to lead PRP (9-11). The Lady Panthers were playing without junior guard and top scorer Carnethia Brown (16.6 ppg), who is out with a sprained ankle.
The Lady Panthers were within 27-17 at halftime but finished 0 for 17 from the field in the second half and scored just seven points (7 of 14 from the free-throw line).
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had that happen,” coach David Meadows said. “I wouldn’t say we had great shots, but we missed five or six that were point-blank range.”
Sacred Heart opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run, taking a 38-17 lead on Meghan Colley’s 3-pointer at the 5:09 mark.
PRP (9-11) – Petit-Frere 4, Foster 3, Fries 13, Marcum 1, Saunders 2, Mitchell 1.
Sacred Heart (14-5) – Johnson 8, Colley 5, Scott 4, Samsel 13, Sivils 4, Berger 13, Taylor 2, Fichter 4.
3-point goals – Foster; Colley, Samsel 2.