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Notre Dame Eagles’ stars go different ways

09/04/2014, 12:00am EDT
By By STEVE JUNGA BLADE SPORTS WRITER

McIntyre picks UT; Floyd leaves Notre Dame for last season

There was good news at Notre Dame Academy when 6-foot-2 senior forward Kaayla McIntyre announced her decision to stay home and accept a basketball scholarship offer from the University of Toledo.

But that news came on the heels of the departure in early August of McIntyre’s three-year teammate Tierra Floyd, an All-Ohio first-team pick who transferred to the Cincinnati area for her senior season.

Floyd, a 6-2 senior, had committed during the summer to Xavier University, the Cincinnati school that hired her mother. Former Bowling Green State University player Netta Smith is the head of basketball operations for the Musketeers’ women’s program.

Floyd and McIntyre played on Notre Dame teams that advanced to the Division I state semifinals three straight seasons, a first for any Toledo high school boys or girls basketball team.

As for McIntyre, staying close to her own mother, Sheronda Haynes, was a factor in her college decision.

“After visiting [UT] multiple times and talking it over with my mom, I kind of got a better feel for it,” McIntyre said of her decision.

“My mom told me if that’s what I wanted to do, then do it. The team chemistry seems to be really good, I like coach [Tricia] Cullop and the rest of the coaching staff, and I think I will do well there. I think I’ll fit in well with the team.”

McIntyre averaged 13.5 points and 10.0 rebounds last season, helping the Eagles to a 24-4 record, a third straight Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship, and a third consecutive trip to the D-I final four.

And for the second year in a row, the Eagles lost in the semifinals to the eventual state champion — Kettering Fairmont in 2013, Cincinnati Princeton in 2014.

“After weighing all of her options with some other very good schools, I just think she felt very comfortable with the coaching staff and the players at Toledo,” Notre Dame coach Travis Galloway said. “And staying home, there’s a chance for her family to see her play all the time. All in all, I think it was the best thing for her.”

McIntyre won’t experience any homesickness.

“My family will be able to come support me,” she said. “I’m used to having them come to the games. It would be different if they weren’t there. I wouldn’t mind going away to school, but I think it’s better for me to stay home.

“For the schools that were looking at me, it wasn’t that big of a factor because they weren’t that far away. I just felt at home at Toledo.”

McIntyre also had offers from Bowling Green, Detroit, Cleveland State, and Wright State.

The Eagles’ coach also believes McIntyre will be a good fit at UT.

“Kaayla has a very good ability to rebound the ball, and for a post player she does a tremendous job of making her teammates better,” Galloway said.

“She has the ability to pass out of the post, and she has become more of a consistent scorer. She had a great spring and a great summer and really showed a lot of her offensive skills, which led to all the offers.”

Floyd, a highly skilled wing equally adept at perimeter shooting and driving to the basket, averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. Her skill level makes her a reasonable candidate for the 2015 Ohio Ms. Basketball award.

If that honor is earned, it will be done for the St. Bernard-Elmwood Place Titans, a Division III team in suburban Cincinnati.

“Obviously Tierra’s a very special player who has had tremendous success for us and meant a lot to us,” Galloway said. “We’re going to miss her as a person as much as a player. We wish her nothing but the best of luck, not only this year but also in the future at Xavier.”

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.

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