WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Abby Prohaska was still on cloud nine two days after Notre Dame clinched its NCAA women's basketball Final Four trip to Tampa.
“It doesn’t feel real,” she told WCPO Wednesday afternoon.
The Notre Dame freshman guard and 2018 Lakota West graduate helped the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team defeat Stanford 84-68 Monday night in Chicago in the Elite Eight.
As Notre Dame (34-3) prepares to play UConn (35-2) in the national semifinal at 9 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) at Amalie Arena, Prohaska is grateful for every opportunity.
Friday’s winner plays either Baylor (35-1) or Oregon (33-4) in the national championship game at 6 p.m. Sunday on ESPN in Tampa.
“I’m having a lot of fun to say the least,” Prohaska said. “I have a lot of great friends on this team.”
Prohaska, who is from Liberty Township, had four points and three rebounds and her effort helped the Irish during critical moments Monday. Her team-first mentality has translated well from Lakota West to Notre Dame.
“Abby always makes us proud,” Lakota West coach Andy Fishman said. “I shared that with her about watching the game and having all the TVs in West Chester and Liberty tuned in to watch her play. To us it was a family affair and it was a lot of fun.”
Prohaska was the first player to cut down the net Monday night in the regional final.
“It meant a lot," she said. "They told me to go first. It was just a great night altogether. A great team win. I feel we are growing as a team this whole experience.”
Said Fishman: “It was awesome. There are so many joyous moments with Abby that we’ve been able to experience and that was certainly one of the highlights.”
Prohaska, a role player this season, also received a shout-out from Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw in the locker room after the game.
“'Unbelievable game, but I thought Abby Prohaska…you took advantage of your moment,'” McGraw told the team.
The West Chester and Liberty Township communities couldn’t be more proud of Prohaska’s journey in her freshman season. In some ways, it was reminiscent of when she was a freshman at Lakota West when the Firebirds won the state title in 2015.
Fishman and Prohaska spoke on the phone Tuesday about that time and the coach encouraged his former standout for this weekend.
“She is totally at ease and with clear purpose when she is out there on the floor for her team fulfilling her role," Fishman said. "That’s why I say it’s such a powerful message for all athletes.”
As a Lakota West senior a year ago, Prohaska watched from a Nationwide Arena suite as the Irish defeated UConn in the national semifinal and eventually won the title in Columbus. She couldn’t wait for an opportunity to help the Irish defend the title.
This weekend, she and her teammates will have that chance to fulfill another dream season.
“It’s amazing," Prohaska said. "I don’t even know how to explain it and put it into words. It’s been an incredible experience.”
Ohio Girls’ Basketball Report associate director Bryce McKey, who coached Prohaska in AAU basketball, said Prohaska is simply a winner.
“Having been a state champion here in Ohio as a freshman to contributing at a high level to a college team as a freshman headed to the Final Four is simply incredible,” McKey said. “But that is what Abby does and her success cannot be denied. She came up huge in a game Tuesday exactly when her team needed her. Abby makes the people around her better and is hard to keep off the floor with her energy, skill set and pace at which she plays.”