CLARKSBURG -- It wasn't exactly Michael Jordan returning to the NBA, but one cannot deny the historical significance of the Notre Dame girls basketball program returning after a hiatus. Tuesday night, the Irish opened the season with a 60-43 defeat at the hands of Trinity High of Morgantown. It is Trinity's first year in the WVSSAC.
James Douglass is the coach on the Irish bench, the same coach who led Notre Dame Junior High to within three points of the Harrison County title last winter.
"Getting the program going again is really important, and I do think we will get better as we go," Douglass said.
Freshman Mallory Menendez had a dazzling varsity debut for Notre Dame, pouring in 33 points, and adding nine rebounds and nine steals. Traci Dodd, Deanna Mossallati, and Amy Riddle all chipped in with six rebounds. Dodd is the only remaining player from the last time Notre Dame fielded a women's team.
Trinity sported a very balanced attack, getting 15 points from Rachel Forse, 14 from both Sara Miller and Cassi Yoskovich, and 13 from Jenny Boyles. Forse had a game-high 18 rebounds.
Rebounding was in fact the difference in the game, as the crew from Monongalia County almost doubled up the Irish on the boards, 57-33.
"That is definitely an area we need to improve upon," Douglass remarked. "But this was the first varsity experience for almost our entire team...we just need to keep our heads up, and learn to be much more aggressive."
But in the end, it was the amazing second half play of Menendez who made the night memorable, scoring 25 of her 33 points in the second half. In doing so, she led an Irish run that whittled a 17-point Trinity margin down to nine at one point in the fourth quarter.
"I was a little nervous at the start, but at halftime, I just seemed to calm down. From that point on I felt comfortable and was able to play my game," Menendez said.