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Notre Dame too quick for Perrysburg

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Notre Dame's Michelle Holmes (32) defends against Perrysburg's Taylor Knight (13) Tuesday during a D-I girls regional semifinal.

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The upset-minded Perrysburg Yellow Jackets managed to maintain a slow tempo in Tuesday night's Division I girls basketball regional semifinal against Notre Dame.

The Eagles quickened it up just enough to gradually add to their lead throughout, and marched off with a 44-28 victory at Central Catholic's Sullivan Center.

The quickest of the Eagles, University of Toledo-bound point guard Cat Wells, did much of the damage in her team's shaking loose from Perrysburg's deliberate style.

She caused many of the Jackets' 14 turnovers and cashed in at the other end in transition often enough to lead all scorers with 16 points.

"When they slowed down on their pace we just pressured them on defense and caused a lot of turnovers," Wells said. "It's hard to stay in a [defensive] stance that long but I just kept it going. I'm really excited for my team because we came out with a lot of intensity."

PHOTOS: Notre Dame vs. Perrysburg

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Eagles teammate Michelle Holmes did her damage as well, adding 10 points, causing problems for Perrysburg shooters when they reached the lane, and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.

"We had to make sure we eventually got to our pace," Holmes said, "and not let them interrupt our game plan. They were trying to stay patient [on offense], and we wanted to speed it up.

"We knew we weren't going to be able to do it in one possession, so we just stuck to our defensive plan."

Notre Dame, playing in a regional for the first time in 23 years, is one step away from reaching the state final four. The Eagles (21-4) will take on Wadsworth (22-3) for the regional championship Saturday at noon at Norwalk High School.

The two teams have already met once this season, with Wadsworth's Grizzlies rallying from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to take a 57-53 win over the Eagles.

Perrysburg's slow-pace scheme was evident from the outset, and the Jackets (19-5) stayed within 7-6 after one quarter.

Perrysburg could not fight off the relentless Notre Dame pressure in half-court sets for long, and the game began to swing in the Eagles' favor by halftime, when they owned a 20-15 lead.

Meanwhile, the Jackets never scored more than nine points in any one quarter, and once they fell behind the prospects of catching Notre Dame were dim.

The Eagles pushed their lead to as many as 13 points in the third quarter -- capping a 10-4 run on Wells' steal and layup with 4:53 left in the third -- before heading to the fourth quarter up 32-22.

"We were pretty disciplined defensively," Eagles coach Travis Galloway said. "A lot of times, when teams make us play defense for that long, we're either reaching and getting fouls, or going for steals we have no chance at getting and we give away layups.

"The kids stayed disciplined, and stayed in position to help. When they eventually took a shot we would for the most part rebound the first miss.

"We thought when we got the lead into double digits we were in good shape, because we didn't feel they could pressure us enough to turn us over."

Hindering its cause, when Perrysburg did manage to penetrate the lane on drives, the Jackets' often failed to convert shots.

They were just 1-for-9 from the field in the decisive third quarter, and 3-of-19 in the second half.

"They're very good," Perrysburg coach Todd Sims said of Notre Dame. "Even though the pace of the game wasn't real fast, it was quicker. Not necessary 94 feet up and down [the court], but it's a quicker tempo than we're used to.

"They're so aggressive. If you play backwards against teams like this, they'll kill you. So, believe it or not, the goal was to attack the basket. But they're quicker than we are so, as soon as there's a little bit of space, that space is gone quicker than we're used to."

Becca Tudor and Sarah Baer led Perrysburg in scoring with eight points apiece, and Baer also snared 11 rebounds.

Notre Dame was 19-of-41 (46 percent) from the field and 5-of-11 from the line. They matched Perrysburg's 28 rebounds. The Jackets were 7-of-9 at the line.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com 419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.

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