PEORIA — This Peoria High-Peoria Notre Dame trilogy may still come with another episode.
Peoria High went into The Kitchen and snapped PND’s 26-game home win streak with a 47-37 victory in Big 12 Conference play. This was the third meeting since Dec. 1 between the state-ranked girls basketball rivals.
The Class 3A second-ranked Lions (19-2, 5-0), who won two of three in the regular-season series, could potentially see No. 3 Notre Dame (19-2, 4-1) for a fourth time come postseason time.
When asked if Peoria High had seen the last of PND, Lions coach Meechie Edwards said, “Probably not.”
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Depending on how the sub-sectional seeds fall, these city rivals could either meet at the regional level or in the Richwoods Sectional. Regardless of what happens when regional ranks are released in the coming weeks, Peoria High and PND were locked in a one-point game with 5 minutes to play.
Aaliyah Guyton takes over
That’s when Aaliyah Guyton scored seven in a row for the Lions, capped by an old-fashioned three-point play. Her free three with 3:12 left gave Peoria High a lasting 38-35 lead. The 5-foot-10 junior guard finished with a game-high 19 points on 8-for-16 shooting in front of all levels of college coaches including Illinois head coach Shauna Green as well as Nebraska head coach Amy Williams and DePaul associate head coach Jill M. Pizzotti.
“I remember telling the team, ‘First three minutes of this last quarter, we got to bring it out and we got to be patient,’ ” Guyton said. “Overall, it was just hustle on offense and patience on defense.”
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Peoria High was running pick-and-roll for Guyton in that stretch, allowing her to get to the basket. Even when two or three Irish defenders sagged on her, she sliced through the defense and finished through contact.
All three of her fourth-quarter buckets came in the paint.
“It was a beautiful sight,” Edwards said. “That’s the plan. That’s what we called out. Every set it was going right there.”
Two titans battled
Both teams couldn’t get into much of a rhythm early on, evenly splitting 16 turnovers in the first eight minutes. In the second quarter, Brigid Dooley came off the bench and scored all nine of the Irish points for a 18-17 halftime advantage. The 6-foot junior Dooley finished with a team-high 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
“She’s really progressed,” PND coach Layne Langholf said. “She’s come a long ways from first practice and gave us huge minutes.”
A Mya Wardle 3-pointer put the Irish up one late in the third quarter, but Peoria High closed out the frame on a six-point run. Guyton grabbed a pair of baskets on drives to the hoop sandwiched between an Allannah Jackson rebound putback for a 31-26 lead.
Working hard during conditioning in practice gets the credit for the Lions playing so well in crunch time, according to Guyton.
“Staying tough mentally, and also in shape,” she said. “With us being in shape, we’ve got better over the season. … I feel like that causes us to stay calm and we don’t get too tired, so we don’t overthink things.”
Peoria High does it with defense
Peoria High, which hadn’t won at PND since Feb. 11, 2020, shot 46.4 percent (13-of-28) in the second half for 30 points. This came with Denali Craig-Edwards scoring 11 points with 14 rebounds along with Jackson adding 11.
Plus, the Lions were able to limit the Irish’s Big 3 of Wardle (eight points, eight rebounds), Julia Mingus (five points, eight rebounds) and Kaitlin Cassidy (four points) on 6-for-34 from the field.
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“It finally came out,” Edwards said. “I knew we were gritty. I knew we were tough mentally. … We’re still not peaking but we’re starting to gel.”
“When you come to The Kitchen, things start to happen a little different than normal. That’s when we showed the toughness.”
PND, which had last suffered a home defeat on Feb. 9, 2021, also had its five-game win streak ended. Peoria High has now won 13 in a row following back-to-back December losses, one coming to PND.
The Irish held a slight edge on the rebounding battle 29-28 but shot 26.4 percent (14-for-53) from the field and committed 23 turnovers.
“Just careless stuff,” Langholf said of turning the ball over. “Very uncharacteristic.”
Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.