Notre Dame gets first League Win on the road at Bishop Alemany
Coming into Tuesday’s game with only one league win to show between Notre Dame and Bishop Alemany, the need for a win was evident from the opening tip. The energy and effort from both teams were more than satisfactory, making for a highly competitive and tightly played contest. While Alemany boasted the bigger lineup, it was Notre Dame’s intensity on defense, execution, and attention to detail on offense, coupled with a few timely shots in key moments that ultimately propelled the Notre Dame Knights to their first league victory of the 2022-23 season.
The game plan was clear on offense for Alemany, get the ball down low and attack the paint, early and often. Freshmen forward Leila Boykin made her mark on the game early scoring 10 points in the first quarter, all in the paint. She was able to get the Warriors off to a flying start by dominating the interior and controlling the glass. Not to be outdone, junior guard Natillia Villamor for the Notre Dame Knights was able to steady her team and pace the Knights in scoring ultimately leading to an 18-13 advantage going into the second quarter. As the game continued on into the second quarter the size discrepancy between the two squads began to rear its head as the Alemany Warriors continued to pound the glass leading to easy chance buckets and opportunities. The forward duo of Boykin and junior Alondra Lizama started to impose their will down low to close the five-point gap and take a 27-26 lead into the halftime locker room. In front of a small but raucous visiting Notre Dame crowd, the narrative shifted the Knights way midway through the third quarter when forward Leila Boykin, who paced the team in points and rebounds, went down with a lower leg injury and was unable to return. Her injury proved to be too much for the Warriors to overcome in the end as they saw their lead evaporate, trailing by one heading into the fourth quarter, a lead they would not get back. Alemany freshman guard Layla Wright made it interesting down the stretch by knocking down two shots from three-point land on back-to-back possessions to keep hope alive for the Warriors but the Knight’s defensive pressure and timely shot-making proved too much to overcome in the end. Notre Dame senior point guard Lisette Meza led her team on both ends of the court with solid and steady point guard play, consistently penetrating and probing the defense and setting up her teammates for wide-open shots. Junior guard Natalie Trujillo was the main beneficiary of Meza’s exceptional point guard play knocking down timely shots from long range to keep the Warriors at Bay and ultimately help the Knights across the finish line to get their first league victory of the season pushing their overall record to 15-5 and 1-4 in league play. Big-time shot-making and high-level defense were the keys to victory according to Coach Paul Gross. “That is part of our deal, being undersized. But our girls play extremely hard and get after it. They took advantage of us at times but we were able to survive it. We’ve been in quite a few close games and just couldn’t hit big shots in big moments and today it felt like we hit some of those shots. We know we can defend at a high level and then it’s just about making shots and today we hit some of those shots”. Notre Dame will be gearing up to avenge an earlier loss to Chaminade this season, Thursday, January 19, at 6 PM in their home gymnasium. As for the Bishop Alemany Warriors, they are back in action Thursday as well, as they will try to right the ship at home against Marlborough High School.