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Tuesday, February 19 High School Sports

No. 3 Notre Dame-Fairfield rallies past No. 9 Kolbe Cathedral

FAIRFIELD — There were three minutes remaining in the third quarter Wednesday and Notre Dame of Fairfield trailed Kolbe Cathedral by 16 points having missed 31 of its 37 field-goal attempts. About 25 minutes later, however, the final buzzer sounded:

Notre Dame 56, Kolbe 49.

How in the world did that happen?

“I feel like we stole it,” ND coach Eric DeMarco said.

To set the record straight, nothing illegal happened Wednesday. The Lancers (17-1, 11-0 SWC) took control of the SWC Patriot Division for a host of reasons.

For starters ... “We started to play our game, not theirs,” said Notre Dame guard Yamani McCollough, who led all scorers with 22 points, 19 in the second half, while adding six rebounds. “Instead of pouting, we channeled our energy and played as a team.”

McCollough was spectacular in the second half, outdueling Kolbe forward Brianna Meekins, who led the Cougars (16-2, 9-2) with 19 points and seven rebounds. But there were other factors that might explain the dramatic turnaround.

“(ND’s) guards started to play more physical and that threw off our rhythm,” Kolbe coach Devon Parker said. “It was hand check, turnover, layup, hand check, turnover, layup. If you want to play physical, that’s fine. But we had trouble getting the ball into our forwards, which is our strength.”

Notre Dame, No. 3 in the GameTimeCT poll, also got hot, making 7 of 10 shots in the fourth quarter after a 6 for 32 effort in the first half. And the Lancers kept the physical pressure up, forcing 26 turnovers.

ND committed just 12 turnovers and only one in the final 11 minutes when the game did a 180-degree turn. Notre Dame outscored Kolbe 37-14 in those final 11 minutes and 23-7 in the final seven minutes.

“We talked at halftime about composure and the need to focus,” DeMarco said. “We stopped being passive and got good shots and good second shots.”

The Lancers, despite being a guard oriented team, were only outrebounded 32-31, and that’s with starting center Laryssa Guimaraes getting into early foul trouble. Backup Brianna Perez rescued the Lancers big minutes off the bench.

With No. 9 Kolbe leading 42-33 early in the fourth quarter, the Lancers went on a 12-1 run led by McCollough and Ciara Brown (13 points, seven rebounds) to take a 45-43 lead.

“When (McCollough) gets on a roll, she can’t be stopped,” Parker said. “She got a lot of her own rebounds and that was key for them.”

Notre Dame was 7 for 7 from the free throw line in the final four minutes to secure the victory.

Gracen Kerr had 16 points for Kolbe while Cougar center Shaniya Stancil had eight rebounds and Mishell Pringle had six.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

ND’s Yamani McCollough won the head-to-head duel with Kolbe’s Brianna Meekins, scoring 19 of her 22 points after halftime while Meekins had 16 of her 19 in the final 16 minutes.

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QUOTABLE

“We’re a transition team and (Kolbe) took that away from us.” — Notre Dame coach Eric DeMarco, referring to the struggles his team had in the half-court offense, missing 31 of its first 37 shots from the field.

ND-FAIRFIELD 56, KOLBE CATHEDRAL 49

KOLBE CATHEDRAL (49)

Beatriz Honorio 0 0-0 0; Gracen Kerr 6 1-4 13; Aniyah Pettway 0 0-0 0; Brianna Meekins 7 5-6 19; Mishell Pringle 2 0-0 4; Robin Selitte 2 0-0 4; Shaniya Sancil 2 2-4 6. TOTALS: 19-47 8-15 49

NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD (56)

Yamani McCollough 8 3-4 22; Aizhanique Mayo 3 2-3 9; Erin Harris 1 4-4 6; Taylor Gibbs 0 0-0 0; Kayla Tilus 0 0-0 0; Krystalee Fernandez 0 0-0 0; Ciara Brown 4 5-7 13; Brianna Perez 2 0-0 4; Laryssa Guimaraes 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 19-59 14-19 56

Halftime: KC 22-14. 3-pointers: KC — Kerr 3. ND — McCollough 3, Mayo.

Records: KC 16-2, 9-2 SWC, ND 17-1 11-0

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