Kamilah Jackson controlled the opening tip to Lauren Bell, who took a few dribbles and found Rosslyn Beard open in the left corner 18 feet from the basket.
It took one shot and eight seconds for the Sacred Heart Cathedral girls’ basketball team to announce its return to the court Wednesday afternoon at Notre Dame of Belmont. Before long, an Irish team that had not played since Jan. 12 while mourning the death of star Tierra Rogers’ father, Terrell, had built a 20-2 lead, extended it to 33-5 late in the second quarter and coasted to a 67-29 win.
With Rogers in attendance and watching on the bench, the top-ranked team in the USA Today Super 25 poll improved to 16-0 overall and 5-0 in the West Catholic Athletic League.
“They’re a special group and there was no doubt in my mind they were ready to play,” Sacred Heart coach Brian Harrigan said. “And the great thing about these young ladies is that they’re a team and they really play for each other. I hear them say ‘I love you’ to each other and they mean it.”
Before the game, Harrigan had stood with his team behind him peering through the window of the door to the gym waiting to take the floor. Soon, Rogers was standing at the baseline as the Irish warmed up and the junior concluded the drills by taking a few layups while her teammates gathered around her in a circle. Notre Dame center Alyssa Osai then read a special prayer for the Rogers family and each Sacred Heart player was announced to the crowd and presented with a yellow rose.
“I told them yesterday at practice that the thing I was most excited for was that moment of waiting right before we got back on the floor,” Harrigan said. “That was the final statement that we were back.”
The symbolic gesture of taking the court was immediately followed by the trademark pressure defense and unselfish attack that has made the Irish two-time defending state champions. Sacred Heart forced 14 first-half turnovers and held the Tigers (13-8, 3-5) to 3-of-19 shooting over the first two quarters. Bell led the Irish with 11 points, Beard (who replaced Rogers in the starting lineup) added 10 and all 10 Sacred Heart players that dressed scored.
“They didn’t seem rusty to me at all, they’re still No. 1,” said Notre Dame guard Jaclyn Bisordi, who entered the game leading the WCAL in scoring but was held without a point. “And even if they were a little slow, their slow is like anyone else’s very best.”
Harrigan said he has set no timetable for Rogers’ return and was unsure whether she would play when the Irish host Presentation on Friday at 4 p.m.
“When she’s ready, we’ll welcome her back with open arms,” Harrigan said.
Sacred Heart Cathedral 67, Notre Dame (Belmont) 29
SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL (16-0, 5-0)
Dannika Navales-Lugtu 8, Kirsten Michler 3, Ashley Boggs 7, Lauren Bell 11, Ki-Ki Moore 9, Rosslyn Beard 10, Geena Giovannetti 1, Melissa Koike 6, Jazmine Jackson 7, Kamilah Jackson 5. Total 67.
NOTRE DAME (13-8, 3-5)
Jenna Marinaro 7, Caitlin Ciardella 2, Margaret Dowling 5, Devon Flannigan 4, Jenna McLoughlin 2, Kathlene Howe 7, Emily Morris 2. Total 29.
Sacred Heart Cathedral 20 13 15 9 — 67
Notre Dame 4 3 16 6 — 29
3-pointers: SHC—Koike 2, Navales-Lugtu 2, Beard 1, Bell 1, Boggs 1, Michler 1. NDB—Howe 1, Marinaro 1. Rebounding leader: SHC—Moore 9. NDB—Dowling 5. Assists leader: SHC—Bell 4. NDB—Ciardella 2.