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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Tigers to Play for CCS Title

Stout 'D' powers Notre Dame past semifinal barrier in eight-point win over visiting Soquel; Tigers take aim at 1st CCS crown since '99 against Scotts Valley on Fri.

The Score: Notre Dame 45, Soquel 37.

The Star: Notre Dame High co-captain Emily Morris scorched Soquel's defense for 15 points on Tuesday night to lead her team to the Central Coast Section Division IV championship game. The 6-foot senior did so while outmaneuvering the defense of 6-1 forward Tess Dominguez and 6-4 center Maddy Woodward, while also limiting her post counterparts to two points through the first three quarters.

The Turning Point: After Morris and co-captain Janet Brazil combined for 13 points as No. 2 seed Notre Dame took a 15-10 lead entering the second quarter, the hosts’ defense stepped in. The Tigers (13-14) limited third-seeded Soquel (20-8) to only three second-quarter points (one field goal and one free throw) courtesy of a tenacious box defense to give Notre Dame a 21-13 halftime edge.

The Quote: “We’re in Division IV this year, so we knew we had a better chance this year. I’m just happy that we now we have at least two more games left. I know we have the next one, and we want to win that one, but we have two more games left.” -- Notre Dame co-captain Emily Morris, on how the move from the Tigers’ traditional placement in Div. III (home to some powerhouses of the West Catholic Athletic League) has helped the team clinch a spot in the Northern California playoffs as well as the chance to play for a CCS title.

What’s Next? Notre Dame seeks its first CCS title since 1999 when it squares off with No. 1 seed Scotts Valley at Santa Clara University on Friday at 3 p.m. The Tigers hope to continue the strong scoring that saw three players, co-captains Morris, Brazil (11 points) and Katie Flaherty (10), all break double-digits against Soquel. Scotts Valley (22-5) won 55-43 over No. 5 seed Mercy of San Francisco in the earlier semifinal at Notre Dame.

The Bottom Line: Until Tuesday’s defensive performance denied Soquel of a championship opportunity, it seemed Notre Dame was the only one being rejected in the CCS semifinals. The Tigers, No. 7 in , have qualified for CCS every season since they last ruled the court in 1999, but failed to reach the title game again until they earned their spot on Tuesday. After falling four straight years --- and seven times overall since '99 – in the semifinals, Notre Dame finally broke through. During a streak that has seen the Tigers qualify for CCS every season since '95, Notre Dame was 2-9 in semifinal matchups before Tuesday. The Tigers are, however, 2-0 in title-game tilts.

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Notre Dame 45, Soquel 37.

S – 10 3 10 14 -- 37

ND – 15 6 14 10 – 45

S: Graves 8 2-3 19, Woodward 5 0-2 10, Bell 2 0-0 5, Stewart 1 0-0 2, Rocha 0 1-2 1, McDermott 0 0-3 0. Totals 16 3-10 37.

ND: Morris 6 3-6 15, Brazil 4 2-3 11, Flaherty 4 2-4 10, Bertana 3 2-4 9, White 0 0-1 0, Dames 0 0-1 0. Totals 17 9-19 45.

3-point goals: S: Graves, Bell. ND: Brazil, Bertana.

Records: Soquel 20-8. Notre Dame 13-14.

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