THE POST-SIGNAL / Jason Faul
Notre Dame’s Christian McNees goes up for two of his 11 points Thursday during the Pios’ 61-40 thumping of the Lacassine Cardinals.
Notre Dame shows no signs of rust in blowout victory over Lacassine
With nearly a week layoff and limited practice time due to wintery conditions, Notre Dame coach Duke Daigle expected his team to be a little rusty entering Thursday’s non-district matchup with the Lacassine Cardinals.
That, however, wasn’t the case.
The Pios went on a 12-4 run to start the game and had seven players contribute points, including three in double figures, in a 61-40 thumping of the Cardinals.
The victory sent the Pios to 16-3 on the season and pretty much secured them the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Division III playoffs.
“I think we have some pretty seasoned kids, I think we played a pretty tough schedule and we have continued to get better game by game,” said Daigle following the victory. “And for our kids to come in here tonight, against a good basketball team, and do what that did...I am happy with what I saw.
“We got a little work in this week, but the big thing is that the kids are starting to realize that they are a good team and the goals ahead of us are very achievable and I think that showed tonight.”
The Pios went on a number of mini runs early in the game that enabled them to take a 30-20 advantage heading into the intermission.
Lacassine got within two (14-12) on a 3-pointer from guard Ethan Corkran with just under two minutes to go in the opening frame, but Zach Lamm answered with a long ball of his own and Christian McNees hit a shot at the buzzer that put the Pios up 19-14.
The Cardinals kept pace with the Pios for most of the second quarter and trailed just 24-20 with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
Once again, the Pios closed out the frame on a run.
Parker McNees hit a step-back 3-pointer and Nick Swacker added a putback to give the Pios some breathing room. Lamm then hit a free throw just before the half to push the lead to 10 (30-20).
The Pios picked up the pace in the third quarter and got some easy buckets in transition during a 19-point outburst that put the guests up 49-32.
Christian McNees and Teddy Menard each scored five points in the frame and Lamm dropped in his third shot from beyond the arc. Swacker and Chris Schmid each hit shots in the lane and Parker McNees hit a pair of free throws.
“We talked about pushing the ball up (the court) a little bit quicker to start the second half and that opened some things up for us,” said Daigle of the third quarter surge. “We went to a little three-quarter trap there and we got some transition points out of it.”
Any hopes of a Lacassine rally were put to rest early in the fourth quarter by Parker McNees.
Entering the fourth quarter with 15 points, well below his average, McNees drilled three straight 3-pointers within the first minute of the frame and just like that, the lead ballooned to 26 (58-32).
Lamm’s two free throws near the midway mark of the fourth quarter spelled the end of the night for the starters.
Notre Dame’s reserves took over from there and allowed just two buckets over the final three minutes.
Parker McNees finished with a game-high 24 points. He also logged five rebounds and had three assists and one steal.
Lamm knocked down three long balls and had 12 points to go along with three rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Christian McNees also scored in double figures with 11 points. He was also the Pios’ leading rebounder with eight boards.
Teddy Menard added five points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, Schmid and Swacker each scored four points and Gabe Leonards finished with one. Schmid also had six rebounds.
“Zach’s production level all season long has been high,” said Daigle of Lamm, who has hit seven shots from beyond the arc in the last two games. “He went through a little shooting slump, but the last two games, he’s been off the charts hitting some shots and doing some good things.
“Same thing with Teddy, contributing some big points and Swack and Schmid are battling and contributing as well.
“If we can continue to get that out of everyone, we will be in good shape.”
The Pios were scheduled to close out the regular season yesterday with a game at Teurlings.
The LHSAA boys state playoff brackets will be released Monday afternoon with first round games beginning on Friday.
The Pios are expected to be the No. 3-seed in the Division III playoffs where they will draw a bye in the opening round.