NDA Girls Win State


Joey Bonadonna, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

After one of the best seasons in Notre Dame Academy athletics history, the girls basketball team finally accomplished the greatest achievement you can hope for in a high school athletic career in Wisconsin – hoisting the gold ball. 

The Lady Tritons finished the season on a 26-game win streak with a 28-1 final record. In each of those 26 consecutive games, they won by an average of 39 points. Coming into the state tournament at the La Crosse Center, the Tritons were seeded #1 in Division 2 with the rest of the field including #2 New Berlin Eisenhower, #3 Reedsburg and #4 Onalaska. 

In a normal season, the state tournament would be played just down Oneida Street from Notre Dame Academy at the Resch Center, but this year the Tritons had to take a three-and-a-half hour drive to La Crosse.

In the semifinal, the Tritons faced off against the hometown Onalaska Hilltoppers. Despite a “home-court advantage” for the Hilltoppers, they were no match for the Tritons’ size in the post. Even though the Tritons made zero three-point shots in the game, they shot 67.5% from inside the line, mostly coming in the paint. 

Freshman Gracie Grzesk led the Tritons in points with 16, as well as senior Sammy Opichka putting up 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. The Tritons won 64-32, which was Sara Rohde’s 200th as a head coach in her 10 years at Notre Dame.

The Tritons would face off against the #3 Reedsburg Beavers in the final. It was the Beavers’ first appearance in a state title game in program history after they took down #2 New Berlin Eisenhower. The Beavers also did not have a single senior on their varsity roster and were led by 10 juniors. 

The Tritons started off on a 11-2 run to start the game, but the Beavers were able to fight back and at one point led 26-21. 

Then, enter freshman Sydney Whitehouse. Whitehouse, who was out for most of the season with a broken fibula, turned on the ignition and cruised to 11 first-half points and two 3-pointers. The Tritons led at the break 42-35.

Similar to the first half, when it looked like the Tritons had a chance to pull away, the Beavers got hot and tied the game up at 50-50 with 11 minutes remaining in the game. Coach Rohde prides her team on their condition in late-game situations. Here was the opportunity to prove it.

Out of that 11-minute-mark media timeout, the Tritons went on a 18-6 run and never looked back. The Tritons won by a final score of 68-56, behind a game-high 17 points from Georgia Gregoire. Opichka also played the full 36 minutes, never going to the bench at any point in the game.

With the win, the Tritons won their 27th overall team WIAA title in school history since the year 2000, fourth in girls basketball program history and third since Rohde took over as head coach.

What comes next for these Tritons? The senior class of Opichka, Gregoire, Charley Apple and Faith Barington has been a huge part of the program for awhile, and they capped off their careers going out on top. 

However, the future is bright for the team. The freshman big three of Grzesk, Whitehouse and Trista Fayta will be in the program for three more years. As well as Grzesk, junior Sarah Hardwick was also listed as first-team all-FRCC and WBCA all-state this season.

Could a return to state to defend their title be in the cards for the Tritons?