Notre Dame sees familiar 2A obstacle

Saturday, March 9, 2002

Notre Dame will try to even the score at 2-2 when it faces John Burroughs in a girls Class 2A quarterfinal game tonight at Park Hills Central High School in Park Hills, Mo.

Notre Dame will carry in a 15-game winning streak, a 26-2 record and No. 3 state ranking into what has become an annual clash with the St. Louis private school (17-11).

After losing two years in a row to the Bombers in the quarterfinals, Notre Dame broke through last season with a 59-39 win. A victory tonight would even the score and propel the Bulldogs to their second straight final four appearance.

A win would also may give Notre Dame another shot at Stockton (28-1), which plays East Buchanan this afternoon, in next week's semifinals. Stockton, ranked No. 1 in the state, defeated Notre Dame in last year's state championship game.

Notre Dame enters on the heels of a 60-41 sectional victory over Twin Rivers.

"I thought our defense was just super," Notre Dame coach Jerry Grim said. "We've played that hard defense all year long and it's paid off in most cases."

Notre Dame showed just how difficult it is to stop. Despite its top three scorers -- Deana McCormick, Lisa Millham and Ashley Millham -- being held to single digits in scoring, the Bulldogs rolled to a 19-point victory. Senior point guard Courtney Vickery stepped up with a team-high 15 points and junior guard Ali Tyson added 10.

"Anyone is capable of doing it, including some off the bench," Grim said. "If we have a strong point, it's we play as a team."

While Notre Dame brings basically the same team back from last year's game, John Burroughs enters with a new look.

Former assistant Martha Fischer is now the head coach and only two returning starters -- Catherine Daake and Shannon Murphy -- are in this year's starting lineup.

"We're a real different team than we've been in the past," Fischer said.

Formerly a methodical half-court team, the Bombers push the ball upcourt whenever they get the opportunity.

Daake is Burrough's top offensive threat, averaging nearly 20 points a game.

After a 5-8 start, Burroughs has won 12 of 15 games.

Notre Dame owns victories over three teams that have defeated the Bombers this season -- St. Joseph's Academy, Nerinx Hall and Perryville. St. Joseph's, which lost to the Bulldogs by three points early in the season, defeated Burroughs by 33 points a month ago.

"As hard as they've worked and are focused, they're not going to overlook anybody," Grim said. "It only makes them more determined to win this game."

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