Scenes from Section 2 Class D final: Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons rallies in fourth quarter to end championship drought

By ROB JONAS

TROY – Thirty years.

That’s how long it’s been since Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons won a Section 2 girls basketball title.

The title drought ended Friday, March 1, at Hudson Valley Community College, as the Lady Knights rallied for a 39-36 victory over North Warren in the Class D final.

Abby Kienzle scored 19 points to lead Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons to its first title since 1989, including the go-ahead basket with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter.

“The key was to stay focused and not let the pressure get to us,” said Kienzle, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

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Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons entered the fourth quarter trailing North Warren 35-27, but the Lady Knights clamped down on defense and did not allow a field goal over the final eight minutes to give themselves a chance to win.

“I played zone defense in the first half for a reason – to show them what we’ve done all season,” said Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons head coach Pat Moran. “In the second half, I went to an aggressive man[-to-man defense].”

“A lot of defense, a lot of pressure,” said North Warren head coach P.J. Hogan. “They battled back, and they made some shots down the stretch.”

Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter, only to watch as North Warren go on a 23-6 run that lasted deep into the second quarter. The Lady Knights scored the final five points of the first half, but the Wildcats went into the locker room with a 25-22 halftime lead.

Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons opened the third quarter by scoring the first three points to tie the score at 25-25, but North Warren created an eight-point cushion, thanks to a two-basket sequence. First, Jodi Bartlett drained a three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 31-27 advantage. Then, North Warren’s defense forced a Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons turnover off the inbounds play, and the ball came to Lauren Monroe for a driving layup to make the score 33-27.

North Warren’s lead ballooned to 35-27 before Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons clawed its way back. The Lady Knights closed the deficit to 36-35 midway through the fourth quarter and had several opportunities to take the lead before Kienzle made the go-ahead basket. The senior guard then sealed the victory by making two free throws with 17.4 seconds left.

“We never really put a team away all season,” said Moran. “We knew going in that this was going to be a war.”

Chloe Bessinger contributed eight points, and Ava Megyeri added six points for Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons. Jodi Bartlett netted 12 points, and Jaclyn Urtz chipped in with seven points for North Warren.

Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons advances to the regional final against Section 7 champion Westport Saturday, March 9, at Hudson Valley Community College.

Photos by Rob Jonas. Copyright 2019 by Capital Region HS Sports.

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