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Notre Dame beats Germantown Academy to force three-way Inter-Ac split

02/12/2024, 8:15pm EST
By Owen McCue

By Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
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VILLANOVA — Lizzie Halligan was home sick with the flu last Thursday.

She couldn't play in Notre Dame’s game against Baldwin that day or rush to Penn Charter with her coaches and teammates to watch the Quakers' game against Germantown Academy that had major implications on the Inter-Ac League race. 

Instead, Halligan was tuned into the livestream when her friend Izzy Casey’s free throw with 0.5 seconds left gave GA a win and opened the door for the Irish’s championship chances.

“I called her that night at like 11:30,” Halligan said. “She couldn’t sleep. She was on an adrenaline rush.”

Casey’s free throw gave Halligan and her Notre Dame teammates a jolt too, turning Monday’s game against Casey and GA into a chance to grab a share of the Inter-Ac championship with a win. The Patriots gave themselves an opportunity to win the league outright with a victory.

Notre Dame spoiled Germantown Academy’s outright bid and grabbed a piece of the Inter-Ac championship for the first time since 1998-99 with a 60-39 victory. The Irish will share the crown with the Patriots and most likely Penn Charter, if it takes down Agnes Irwin on Tuesday. It will also be the first three-way tie for the Inter-Ac title since 1999.

“We earned it,” Halligan said. “I’m not gonna say we got lucky because I don’t think we did. I think we earned this opportunity. Shout out Izzy for that foul shot against Penn Charter, but we earned this. We deserve to be here. Coach (Terry) Mancini always believed in us.”

Notre Dame (21-5, 10-2 Inter-Ac), Germantown Academy (23-5, 10-2) and Penn Charter (15-6, 9-2) split their meetings the first time through the double round robin schedule. However, Notre Dame’s Jan. 12 loss to Penn Charter dropped the Irish a game behind both in the standings. They had to wait 27 days to see if their finale against Germantown Academy would have meaning or not.


Lizzie Halligan (above) had nine points, three rebounds, and three assists. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The Irish wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity on Monday, holding the Patriots to just four points in the second quarter to grab a 28-16 halftime lead. They tacked on after half to lead by as many as 17 in the third quarter and continued to run away with the game in the final period.

Freshman guard Riley Davis led the way with 17 points and classmate Grace Nasr posted a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double to go along with three blocks and three assists. Junior Sophia Hall added 11 points and eight steals off the bench, totaling six steals in the dominant defensive second quarter. The victory avenged a 49-38 Jan. 3 loss to GA.

“From the beginning, I kind of had the feeling that we would play better than last time,” Nasr said. “We had prepared a lot for this, and we came out of the gate really strong.”

Germantown Academy was led by 14 points from Casey. The Patriots’ share of the title gives the program its first Inter-Ac championship since 2020.

“It’s just a weird feeling,” GA head coach Lauren Power said. “Because it’s like we’re co-champions but we lost, so you feel the loss. But you know, credit to the three teams. Everybody’s good in their own way and three great teams.”


Sophia Hall (above) led a staunch defensive effort with eight steals, plus 11 points and six rebounds. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“I just told them I love them and I’m thankful for this incredible journey and no one’s going to take away the fact that we’re co-champions,” she added.

It was the first Inter-Ac title for Power, who spent the last five seasons as the head coach at Notre Dame before arriving at GA this offseason.

“You know, I give them a big congratulations, they earned it today, they were the better team today,” Power said. “I think when the season’s over and you get to reflect, you’re going to reflect on there’s a lot of really great things that happened and you know, it’s of course we wanted to be outright champion, that’s what we set out to do. It was just a crazy year, crazy finish to the end.”

After 12 years as the head coach at Saint Basil Academy before its closure, Notre Dame head coach Terry Mancini was Power’s assistant for two seasons then replaced her this offseason. Before his team began league play, he made sure they looked up at the girls basketball championships banner in their gym and visualized leaving their mark on something that hadn’t been updated in 25 years.

Halligan, the team’s lone senior, noted this year’s group was more balanced than in season’s past. Along with Halligan, Hall, Davis and Nasr, juniors Chloe Knox and Catie Kelly were constant threats throughout the season.

“When they set their minds to something, they’ll do it,” Mancini said. “They wanted to win a championship. That was their goal. It’s a three-way tie, but that’s the Inter-Ac and we’ll take it. 


Grace Nasr (above) finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“We beat Penn Charter, their first (Inter-Ac) loss in two years, that says a lot. We’ve held court here all year. We haven’t lost a game on our home floor, so that’s important. … We did all the necessary things you want as a program, as a first-year head coach.”

The Irish don’t plan on waiting another two and a half decades to sit atop the Inter-Ac. Mancini highlighted Halligan’s importance this season in taking some of the young players under her wing. She will be missed, but the rest of the group will return next season, including the freshmen duo of Davis and Nasr that gave a glimpse of its potential on Monday.

Mancini won five straight Catholic Academies championships at Saint Basil before its closure and hopes Monday’s win is a marker of something similar to come at Notre Dame. The Irish haven’t won an outright title since 1995, which capped a stretch of six straight Inter-Ac titles that just so happened to start with a three-way share.

“Every school’s had their time,” Halligan said. “This is our time.”

By Quarter
ND: 14  |  14  |  19  |  13  ||  60
GA: 12  |   4   |  17  |   6   ||  37

Shooting
ND: 25-51 FG (2-10 3PT), 8-12 FT
GA: 14-49 FG (4-19 3PT), 7-8 FT

Scoring
ND: Riley Davis 17, Grace Nasr 15, Sophia Hall 11, Lizzie Halligan 9, Catie Kelly 3, Chloe Knox 3, Alex Gillin 2

GA: Izzy Casey 14, Jess Aponik 8, Jess Kolecki 6, Sam Wade 4, Jen Aponik 4


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