GREEN BAY - The Notre Dame girls basketball team remembers what it was like last season when it clinched a trip to the Division 2 state tournament.
The Tritons want that feeling again, and the Tritons are in position to do so. They are a No. 1 seed and more importantly have experience from last season's run, including the three leading scorers in Allie LeClaire, Brianna Byrne and Eliza Campbell.
"They know how it felt last year going to state and they want to do it again this year," said coach Sara Boyer-Rohde.
If Notre Dame (16-6) is to make it to the Resch Center, the site of this year's state tournament, though, it needs to do one thing better – beat quality opponents. In 12 games against teams with 14 wins or more, Notre Dame has six wins.
Not bad, but not great.
The road to the state tournament might start easy for a team like Notre Dame but at the end of its sectional run could be Beaver Dam, a team Notre Dame lost to earlier this season. The Tritons are well aware they need to step up.
"Same thing with last year," Boyer-Rohde said. "That's when we beat teams, in the postseason. Sometimes we don't beat teams we probably could've beaten early in the year and finally at the end of the year we started winning games. I'm hoping that's the same thing that happens this year."
Notre Dame has the talent to return to the state tournament as the trio of LeClaire, Byrne and Campbell each average more than 12 points per game. They also started last year for Notre Dame and experience can be big in the postseason.
"I think we have just as much talent as we did last year, if not more," said Byrne, who scored 17 points last year at state. "I think the experience of playing together longer, getting used to each other's styles has really helped us."
"We have a little bit more experience, our girls are a year older," Boyer-Rohde said. "Last year, a lot of our girls; well two of our key players Eliza and Allie were sophomores, so they have a year of experience. I think that's huge for us. They just have more experience in general, so I think that helps us."
Notre Dame's path to a sectional final looks favorable. The Tritons have defeated No. 2-seeded Pulaski (14-8) twice by 17 and nine points, respectively, but have not played No. 3 Plymouth (18-4).
Plymouth and Pulaski likely will meet in a regional final with the winner likely meeting Notre Dame in a sectional final. That's when Notre Dame has step up if it wants to make the state tournament.
"I'm super excited," LeClaire said. "State has always been a goal for me, especially winning state. It's like one player's dream, so getting back to state would be amazing."
And the Tritons don't want to just reach state, they want to win it, and they feel good about their chances.
"A lot of us went to state last year, so we know what it feels like," LeClaire said. "We don't want to have that feeling we had when we lost last year. We're pretty confident."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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