Notre Dame superstar comes home, scores game-high 23 points to
down Lady Mustangs, 61-37
GILROY – Junior Jessica Ross is the best female basketball player in Gilroy, but the talented hoopster does not play for the Lady Mustangs. Instead, she leads private-power Notre Dame down in Salinas.
So once a year Ross revels in the opportunity to showcase her skills in her hometown of Gilroy. That one game came Thursday night at Gilroy High School when the Lady Spirits put their undefeated mark in league on the line against the Lady Mustangs.
“It’s the one home game of the year for me and I’ve got a lot of friends out here, so it’s fun,” said Ross, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “I think I can play a little better, just taking it to the basket and finishing some more shots.”
Ross is not the only Gilroyan playing for Notre Dame. Guard Nicole Daye, who played for the Lady Mustangs her sophomore season, also got a chance to come back to her old stomping grounds. Daye netted eight points to help the cause and down host Gilroy, 61-37.
“We’ve been improving throughout the season and even just tonight we’ve really been working on pushing the ball up court and trying to outrun teams,” said Ross, whose Notre Dame squad upped its record to 8-0 in T-CAL and 19-4 overall. “We’re doing pretty good. We’re hoping to go 10-0 in league and be strong in section and NorCals.”
Gilroy (9-15 overall, 1-7 in T-CAL) did not back down from the challenge, jumping out to a 7-2 lead in the first quarter before Notre Dame took over and ran away with the game.
“They came out excited and ready to play. We’ve had some tough losses so far and I think if you go into a game with Notre Dame thinking you are going to lose, then you might as well not show up,” Gilroy head coach Kari Williams said. “I think the girls really came out ready to play and they wanted to play and they were excited to play.”
But the Lady Spirits came to play as well, taking the lead with 2:27 left in the opening quarter and never looking back. Notre Dame led by four at the end of the first quarter, and extended to a 13-point lead at the half.
“I thought we played a pretty good basketball game. The score doesn’t show that, but as far as running an offense and controlling the tempo, we did a lot of good things,” Williams said. “The other side of that is Notre Dame is a good basketball team. (Coach John Given) goes a couple into subbing before there’s a severe notice of a drop off.”
The shots were dropping for Lady Spirits all night, as they stretched the gap to 16 by the end of the third quarter and built that up to more than 20 in the final eight minutes.
“They are a well-coached team. They break every time. We probably gave up, I’m going to guess, 10 layups and that’s 20 points, and we had one breakaway layup and didn’t make it. That’s the difference in this basketball game,” Williams said. “You have to give the credit to them. They are well coached and they have some great, great basketball players.”
The Lady Mustangs were once again plagued by their poor free-throw shooting, going 1-for-7 in the first half and finishing 8-for-21 from the charity stripe.
“I don’t want to label it as a problem. I mean it is a problem, but it’s just become this thing,” Williams said. “We shoot them in practice and these guys nail them left and right. I don’t know what we have to do. We have to figure out what our lucky charm is. It’s made the difference in a few games.”
Senior center Sarah Hoeft led Gilroy with 11 points, while junior forward Amanda Link added eight points and senior Antoinette Okere with five points. Six other Lady Mustangs cracked the scoring column.
“I’m proud of our girls. I think our seniors stepped up and they got some good playing time tonight and they did a good job and we almost kept everybody in the game,” said Williams, whose squad will host North Salinas on Tuesday and then head to Live Oak on Thursday to close out T-CAL play. “We’re not done with the season yet. We’re looking to finish as strong as we can finish.”