NORWALK, Ohio — Few words, if any, needed to be said in Notre Dame Academy's locker room at the half of Tuesday night's Division I girls regional semifinal with Rocky River Magnificat.
The Eagles’ performance during the first 16 minutes of the game spoke volumes.
PHOTO GALLERY: ND girls dominate
Notre Dame built a 30-point advantage by the break and coasted through the second half en route to a decisive 57-38 victory over Magnificat.
“We got on them right away and it took away any confidence that they might have had and it gave our kids confidence,” Notre Dame coach Travis Galloway said of the Eagles’ 12-0 run to start the game. “We were fortunate to have a great start and a great first half.”
Notre Dame (23-3) will face either Berea-Midpark or Wadsworth in a regional final on Saturday at Norwalk.
Eagles junior Kaayla McIntyre scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the opening quarter against the Blue Streaks (20-4). Jayda Worthy pumped in her 10 points in the first half when the Eagles made it clear no one would get in the way of a third consecutive trip to the regional finals.
“It's an unbelievable accomplishment and that's all our junior class has known,” Galloway said of Notre Dame's postseason success.
McIntyre is one of nine juniors on the Eagles roster who have become accustomed to postseason runs.
“It feels good, but you've got to stay focused the whole tournament,” McIntyre said.
Notre Dame sat its starters for much of the second half after taking a 40-10 lead into halftime.
Tierra Floyd, the Eagles' highly recruited 6-foot-2 junior, spent much of her time distributing the ball to teammates, particularly McIntyre and Worthy close to the rim. She scored four points in the first half and spent most of the second half resting on the bench.
Defensively, the Eagles forced the Blue Streaks into a half-dozen turnovers in the first quarter and that led to several breakaway layups for Notre Dame, which closed out the opening period with a commanding 27-5 lead.
The Eagles’ coach commended his team for a stellar all-around performance.
“They're focused and their attention to detail in practice has really been unbelievable and it really showed in the first half tonight,” Galloway said.
Magnificat went scoreless for more than 4 minutes of the first quarter before Sarah Scelza, who led the Blue Streaks with nine points, drained a 3-pointer to make it 12-3. Notre Dame responded with a 13-0 run and led 25-3 before Magnificat's Abby Adler scored from close range with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter to make it 25-5.
The Eagles continued to execute well on offense and defense in the second quarter and outscored the Blue Streaks 15-5 to end up with the kind of halftime lead that made it a rather quiet Eagles locker room at the break.
“Coach just told us, ‘Good job, and not to slack off in the second half,’” McIntyre said.
The Eagles kept to the game plan and closed out the third quarter with a 48-17 lead. There would be no need to look over their shoulders in the fourth quarter.