Ashwaubenon stays in FRCC race with win over Tritons

Ashwaubenon defeated Notre Dame, 43-37, in Fox River Classic Conference play Thursday. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)

ASHWAUBENON (WLUK) -- It was pretty clear to the Ashwaubenon girls basketball team -- win and stay in the Fox River Classic Conference race; lose and it's pretty much over.

That was the case for the Jaguars when they hosted FRCC leader Notre Dame on Thursday.

Behind a stingy defense and timely shooting, Ashwaubenon made things more interesting in the FRCC as it handed the Tritons their second straight loss, holding off Notre Dame, 43-37.

With the win, Ashwaubenon is one game behind Notre Dame, De Pere and Bay Port in the loss column in the conference standings.

Photos: Notre Dame at Ashwaubenon

"We've had the goal to beat Notre Dame at home for a long time," sophomore Kally VanLaanen said. "This is just huge. It feels awesome, we haven't done this in a long time."

"This is a huge win for us," Ashwaubenon coach Nicky VanLaanen said. "If we lost the game, we were probably out of the hunt."

Ashwaubenon's defense frustrated the Tritons (10-3, 7-2), ranked No. 5 in the FOX 11 Top 11, even though post Maddie Koch (6-feet-2) was saddled with foul trouble much of the game. Kaycee Gierczak and Lizzie Opichka entered the game combining to average 25 points per game were limited to seven combined points as Notre Dame was held to a season-low in points.

"Our defense was awesome," Kally VanLaanen said. "We've been working hard every day on it in practice."

"The kids stepped up," Nicky VanLaanen said. "We mixed up defenses a lot. We wanted to get them out of their offense."

Ashwaubenon (9-5, 7-3) also needed some points and received a game-high 13 from Kally VanLaanen. The sophomore hit two clutch three-pointers down the stretch, which allowed Ashwaubenon to keep the Tritons at a distance.

"You have to have confidence," Kally VanLaanen said. "If you're open take the shot, if not, pass the ball to the other players."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay