Thursday, February 26 - (Villanova, PA) - The Academy of Notre Dame’s Middle School Varsity Basketball Team clinched their third Catholic Academies League Championship in as many years. The Irish hosted Gwynedd Mercy Academy in the Finals, winning by a score of 40-27.
On Notre Dame’s opening possession, point guard Mandy McGurk drove in and sinked a floater, which would set the tone for the game. McGurk led all scorers with 14 points and 6 rebounds. The Irish never lost the lead, but Gwynedd came back in the 4th quarter and got within six points before Kelly McCullough drained a three pointer that eventually shut the door on Gwynedd. McCullough finished with 9 points. Maggie Pina added 11 for the Irish with 9 rebounds, just short of a double double. Caitlyn Mullen made a come back for the championship after a 6-week injury and contributed on both sides of the ball. Riley Shaak played great defense and had 6 blocks in the game, holding one of Gwynedd’s best players to 4 points (who previously averaged 12 points on the Irish during the regular season). Meg O’Meara added 4 points for Notre Dame.
According to Head Coach Jen Carlo, “The team came out and played great defense, only allowing 27 points to a team who averaged 38 against us during the regular season. We had 11 blocks and 24 rebounds; we played 5 as 1 no matter who was on the court. We played like champions.”
The team clinched the Regular Season Championship earning the #1 seed in the playoffs and home court advantage. In the semi-final game on Monday, the Irish beat Rosemont 40-25 to advance to the Championship Game.
Notre Dame finished their season with a 22-1 record, outscoring opponents on average 39 to 23. The team will lose the core of their team to graduation next season but will look to the strong seventh grade class to pave the way for another championship in 2016. Coach Carlo stated, “A great thing about this year's championship team is that we have a deep bench -- mostly filled with 7th graders. We have big shoes to fill for next year, but so much potential to be another championship team. Our 8th graders have been the backbone of our program and we are excited about their future on our High School team.”