D2 South: Duxbury 57, Notre Dame (Hingham) 39

BROCKTON, Mass. -– After watching No. 16 Notre Dame deliver upsets in the first two round of the Div. 2 South Sectional tourney, No. 4 Duxbury made sure early on Wednesday evening in a semifinals game at Massasoit Community College that they wouldn’t meet the same fate.

The Dragons poured in the first eight points of the contest en route to a convincing 57-39 win in a game they never trailed in, punching their ticket for the South finals, where they’ll meet No. 2 seed Medfield on Saturday at UMass-Boston at 2 p.m.

While the Cougars (13-12) defense kept Duxbury stars Michaela North and Kate Norton in check in the first quarter -– they combined on just five points, sophomore point guard Madeline Foote made sure there would be plenty of offense for the Dragons (21-2).

She buried three 3-pointers in the first quarter and another in the second to pace Duxbury’s first half attack.

“Madi’s a fabulous 3-point shooter and she was killing it during pre-game,” said Duxbury coach Robert Sullivan. “Obviously, that carried over into the game.”

Even though Foote has flashed solid offensive abilities this year –- she scored a team-high 21 in the Dragons’ first round win over Hopkinton -– her role in the offense is typical to set up the seniors with scoring chances.

“I usually just shoot the three if it’s a kick-out,” Foote said. “Usually I just control the ball and get it to Kate or work it down low. Their defense put pressure on me to open things up for Kate -– whose our big shooter, and to open things up down low.”

And perhaps more importantly than just supplying early offense, Foote emerging as a threat from distance did wonders to get their stars going even without her adding to her total of 12 points.

“It helped us out so much,” said North. “When she has a big game like that, or Kate hits early threes it opens everything up. It spreads the floor and gives us more chances to post-up down low and get more points.”

North went on to score a game-high 23 points as part of an impressive triple-double in which she also pulled in 12 rebounds and blocked 11 shots for Duxbury.

“She’s a special, special young lady,” said Sullivan. “Hardest working kid in practice every day. This means a lot to her. All week long, we worked on press breakers because we knew it was coming. She took it seriously.”

The 6-foot-2 forward was even better on the defensive side of things, using an innate shot-blocking ability to all but eliminate Notre Dame’s chances to score inside the paint.

“Unlike a windmill block, she goes up and blocks everything left-handed,” said Sullivan. “Most people shoot right-handed, so she goes up with the left and she’s not concerned with Hollywood, she’s just concerned with blocking the shot and maybe getting it to a teammate.”

Norton was the third-leading scorer for the Dragons, adding eight points. She also dished out five assists, had five rebounds, five steals and five blocks to help send Duxbury to the finals.

For Notre Dame, McKenna Cudgma did everything she could to keep the Cougars alive. She netted a team-high 12 points, had five steals and grabbed four rebounds in the loss. Teammate Alexandra Dalton added 10 points and six rebounds while Colleen McClelland added seven points and five rebounds.