By Terry Boehmker
The Notre Dame girls’ basketball team returns to the Region 9 Tournament this week for another shot at the title that barely escaped them last season.
Boone County scored four points in the last nine seconds of overtime to defeat Notre Dame, 62-58, in last year’s regional championship game.
That’s a memory that provides motivation for the returning players on Notre Dame’s roster as they prepare to face Newport in the opening round of this year’s regional tournament at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Bank of Kentucky Center.
If the Pandas win that game, they could get a rematch with Boone County in the semifinals on Sunday.
“They’re hungry, but every team in the tournament is hungry,” Notre Dame coach Nicole Levandusky said of her players. “Going into overtime last year and losing to Boone, our girls haven’t forgotten that. But we have to take care of our first-round opponent first.”
Notre Dame (23-5) did not play Newport (18-12) during the regular season, but the Pandas beat each of the other seven teams in the regional bracket by margins of 15 points or more, including Boone County.
That’s why the Pandas are considered the favorite and expected to win their first regional championship since 2007.
“We’re playing great as a team,” Levandusky said. “Our defense has been one of the key components of our game and hopefully we can continue that in the region.”
The Pandas are averaging 56.7 points per game while limiting opponents to a 42.5. In their last 12 victories, they held seven of their opponents to 31 points or less.
“Defense has been our most consistent aspect of the game,” Levandusky said. “We can control that more than we can on the offensive end.”
The 9th Region girls’ tournament will begin on Wednesday with Boone County vs. St. Henry at 6:30 p.m. followed by the Notre Dame vs. Newport at 8 p.m.
The first-round will resume on Friday with Dixie Heights vs. Ryle at 6:30 p.m. and Highlands vs. Holmes at 8 p.m.
The semifinals are set for 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday with the championship game tipping off at 7 p.m. Monday.
Advance tickets will be sold for $6 at each of the eight participating schools. Admission at the door will be $8.
Here is the complete tournament schedule with records for each team:
WEDNESDAY – UPPER BRACKET
Boone County (17-11) vs. St. Henry (14-15), 6:30 p.m.
Notre Dame (23-5) vs. Newport (18-12), 8 p.m.
FRIDAY – LOWER BRACKET
Dixie Heights (16-15) vs. Ryle (11-18), 6:30 p.m.
Highlands (24-7) vs. Holmes (13-17), 8 p.m.
Upper bracket semifinal, 12 p.m.
Lower bracket semifinal, 1:30 p.m.
Championship game, 7 p.m.
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