FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Notre Dame of Fairfield’s girls basketball team lost its only meeting to Lauralton Hall earlier this season by 36 points. Coach Eric DeMarco hopes the Lancers have a much better showing in Friday’s South-West Conference championship game.
The third-seeded Lancers (19-3) meet No.1 Lauralton (21-1) at 7 p.m. at Bunnell High School in Stratford. Notre Dame upset No. 2 Pomperaug on Wednesday, 58-45, to set up the rematch against Lauralton Hall of Milford, which is ranked No. 3 in the state by the New Haven Register.
“I know that our mindset is we just want to prepare ourselves to play a little better than the last time we played,’’ DeMarco said. “They’re one of the Top 10 teams in the state and have been all season. They have a lot of talent. I think playing them will help us a lot when we go to states.”
Notre Dame has won 12 of its last 13. The Lancers advanced through the tournament with a 42-41 win over Brookfield in its opening game, followed by the upset of Pomperaug. Notre Dame's loss to Lauralton was a 63-27 setback Jan. 4.
Notre Dame has lost just once since, and defense has been the team's calling card. They have held 11 opponents to less than 40 points. But the Lancers also have a penchant for turnovers – they mishandled it 28 times against Pomperaug – and have gone through stretches of offensive futility. If they solve those issues, they could make it interesting against Lauralton.
“You want to make good decisions,’’ DeMarco said. “We like to play up-tempo. If we’re prepared to play defense and rebound, sometimes you can overcome mistakes. When you’re playing a good team like Lauralton, that becomes even more paramount.”
Senior guard Amber James scored 26 against Pomperaug, while Jovan Kingwood added 18. They are Notre Dame’s top players, but the team's deep rotation can give other teams fits. Regardless of the outcome Friday, DeMarco is happy his team is playing for a shot at the top prize in the SWC.
“I’m happy for them,’’ DeMarco said. “Notre Dame has not been to the finals in a long time. It’s great to have a game to play rather than set up for a scrimmage.”