Notre Dame Prep playoff run ends in regional final loss

By: Jacob Herbert | Rochester Post | Published March 19, 2019

 Notre Dame Prep sophomore Elena Schwegma takes a shot in a regional final against Goodrich High at Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day. Schwegma led the Irish in scoring with 14 points.

Notre Dame Prep sophomore Elena Schwegma takes a shot in a regional final against Goodrich High at Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day. Schwegma led the Irish in scoring with 14 points.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

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PONTIAC — In the closing minutes of the fourth quarter in a Division 2 regional final game, it seemed as if everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep girls basketball team.

After leading for the majority of the game, the Irish fell to Goodrich High 50-47 March 13 at Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day.

“First you’ve got to give them credit,” Irish coach Tom Kocik said. “They stepped it up and played a heck of a game. Did we miss some things? Yeah, we did. But at the end of the day, they executed at the end there and we didn’t.”

With just under four minutes to play in the game, Prep junior Malorie Wilson had to take a seat on the bench with four fouls. The loss of Wilson was detrimental to the Irish, as they lost a pivotal force in the paint.

“That was tough, because Malorie provides the presence down low,” Kocik said. “With her out of there, it changes our dynamic a little bit.”

Wilson finished the game with 10 points.

Turnovers on inbound plays and missing the front end of a 1-and-1 also hurt Prep’s chance to claim a regional championship. The Irish managed a total of 6 points in the final quarter.

What proved to be the most costly mistake came with 10.5 seconds to go. Goodrich junior Maddie Voelker had a chance to tie the game up from the free-throw line. After both free throws were missed, a rebound squirted out to Voelker, who stepped back behind the arc and hit a 3-pointer to give the Martians a 48-47 lead.

Voelker, who scored 28 of her team’s 50 points, hit two more free throws to sink the Irish.

“I think they were a little bit nervous,” Kocik said. “But part of it was, we were trying to force them to foul. We were trying to get into a position to get to the line, and short of 10 seconds, that worked.”

The Irish ended the season on quite a run in the playoffs, beating back-to-back defending state champion Country Day 71-59 March 8 to win a district title. Prep also took down Catholic High School League CD Division runner-up Wixom St. Catherine along with a Croswell-Lexington High team that was undefeated in the Blue Water Area Conference.

“The system that we interjected is almost like a read and react, and they weren’t used to that.” Kocik said about what allowed his team to go on such a run. “All of a sudden, they began to understand and see things. It was trusting each other that others would be there and beginning to play as a team.”

The Irish finished the season at 12-13 overall. While Kocik will lose seven seniors now that the season is over, he said he’s excited to work with the younger players going into next season and beyond.

As Kocik wrapped up his first season at Notre Dame Prep, he said he’s started to set a foundation to bring winning to the Irish, thanks in large part to his seniors.

“Heart, passion and leadership,” he said of the group. “They were just fantastic kids.”

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