LIMA – If No.3-ranked Notre Dame Academy thought it was going to stroll into Lima and immediately steamroll the Spartans, the Eagles had to quickly adjust their thinking.
Lima Senior made sure this wasn’t the normal stroll on the beach for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame led by only 10 at the half before pulling away with a 71-39 victory over Lima Senior in a girls basketball game Monday at Lima Senior.
Taking over in the third quarter for Notre Dame was 6-foot-2 sophomore Grace VanSlooten, who finished with 23 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks.
“We realized we can do better than this,” VanSlooten said of the second half. “We picked up our energy, picked up our defense and that led to great things.’’
Van Slooten ran the floor in transition, displayed spin moves in the post and stepped out and knocked down 15-foot jumpers.
“Grace has a unique skill set,” Notre Dame coach Travis Galloway said. “Obviously, she has great size and has a great motor, which separates her from a lot of players. And I thought her mid-range jumper was really good tonight. And for her to get 15 rebounds is really impressive.’’
VanSlooten had nine points in the third quarter when the Eagles outscored Lima Senior 21-11 to pull out to a 48-28 lead.
Notre Dame stands 14-3, 10-0 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
Lima Senior is 9-9, 5-5 in the TRAC.
“I’m not much on moral victories and things, but I commend my girls for how hard they competed tonight,” Lima Senior coach Vince Halliday said. “The first quarter we were only down three and only down 10 at
the half, then it kind of got away in the second half. But they’re really good.’’
Jonisha Harvey led the Spartans with 11 points.
Cheyanne Bean had eight points and eight rebounds.
The Spartans’ Diava Glenn scored seven, while Nakiya Sigman had six points.
Ray Armstrong added 15 points and three 3-pointers for Notre Dame.
The Eagles’ 6-3 Aubrey Zmuda had six points and seven rebounds.
Notre Dame has finished 14-0 in the TRAC the last three years.
Notre Dame knocked off the Spartans 76-35 earlier in the year at Toledo.
But this game was much different.
“I think they (Lima Senior) were tremendous in the first half, but I think fatigue might have set it for them in the second half,” Galloway said. “They played hard, they were scrappy and they did a great job.’’
Lima Senior was able to stay right with Notre Dame for the first half.
The Eagles led 13-10 after the first quarter.
“We didn’t play well in the first half and Lima had a lot to do with that,” Galloway said. “They played much harder than we did in the first half and they were right in the game. In the third quarter I thought we finally settled in.’’
The Spartans led 17-15 with 4:50 left in the second after Glenn scored seven quick points in the quarter, with a 3-pointer.
Notre Dame switched from a man to a 1-1-3 press and a 2-3 zone.
Just like that, the Eagles ripped off a 12-0 run to end the half with a 27-17 lead.
VanSlooten had 10 points, nine rebounds and a block at halftime.
“We were definitely out of our routine (after the 90-minute trip),” VanSlooten said. “We got out of school early and dropped the freshmen off (at the gym) and I think that messed us up a little bit. And they were ready to go.’’
Bean had six points and six rebounds at the half for the Spartans.
Lima Senior was still within 29-22 after a Harvey 3-pointer at the 6:17 mark of the third quarter.
That’s when VanSlooten took over.
She stepped out and canned a 15-footer, then scored on a fast-break layup.
Then VanSlooten gobbled up a steal in the backcourt and went end-to-end for a layup.
One more fast-break layup by VanSlooten and that capped a 13-2 Eagles run.
“She’s a big-time Division I prospect,” Halliday said. “She’s 6-2 and has guard skills. … She’s basically unguardable.’’
Notre Dame’s lead grew to 42-24 and it led 48-28 after three.
Notre Dame won the boards 45-27.
Notre Dame shot 52 percent from the floor and was 4 of 10 on 3-pointers.
Lima Senior shot 32 percent from the field and was 3 of 19 on 3-pointers.
It marked the second straight game that the Spartans played without 5-10 starter A.J. Bullock, who didn’t dress because of a school decision.