ROSEMOUNT — Getting a triple-double, in any contest, takes a lot of effort and attention to detail.
For Notre Dame’s Katie Dettwiller, however, effort and attention to detail is in her middle name.
The junior proved that in spades once again by playing essentially a perfect brand of basketball, connecting on all nine of her shots for 18 points while collecting 15 rebounds and 11 blocks during an SOC I contest against Clay. Her efforts, along with Lexi Smith’s 22 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, four assists, and two blocks, spearheaded yet another strong effort for the Lady Titans as Notre Dame emerged with a 69-36 win over the Clay Panthers’ girls basketball program on Monday evening in Rosemount.
However, as good as Notre Dame was — yet again — on Wednesday evening, JD McKenzie knows that his team can’t settle, because the Lady Titans are simply on a mission to set a new standard in its program.
“I talked to the girls after the game and felt like our intensity was lacking a little bit tonight,” McKenzie said. “For whatever reason, I just felt like we didn’t come out with the same energy that we had been. We didn’t cause as many turnovers, and we were late on some stuff. However, we executed well offensively in the halfcourt, especially in the first half, and got some good looks for Katie and Lexi inside. Ali Smith hit some big threes for us in the first half, too, and we successfully battled through foul trouble. We scratched and clawed our way to a victory on the road, and that is a result that I’ll take, especially with not having school today.”
From the outset, Dettwiller, Smith, and the Notre Dame defense proved to be nothing less than dominating as the Lady Titans suffocated the Lady Panthers offensively.
Overall, Notre Dame, behind its low-post duo, sprinted out to an 8-0 run and kept Clay from striking the scoreboard until Jensen Warnock connected on a three-pointer with 4:12 to play in the first quarter. Notre Dame then followed with a 10-0 run behind the pair — who scored 16 of the Lady Titans’ first 18 points — and held Clay to one field goal over the remainder of the quarter as Notre Dame took a 22-5 advantage after a quarter of play.
“It did seem like that they got their hands on the ball a lot and changed a lot of shots as a result,” McKenzie said. “Anytime you’ve got Katie and Lexi in there with their size, it’s going to give teams that don’t have that same size trouble. They did a good job of staying out of foul trouble while playing good low-post defense at the same time. Then, with them getting back, running the floor in transition like they are, and finishing around the rim while being as productive as they are defensively, it really shows how high of a level that they are playing at right now. Our guards are doing a good job of realizing, ‘Hey, they’re playing at a high level right now. Let’s get them the ball.’ That’s our bread and butter.”
Much of Dettwiller’s and Smith’s looks, which were from five feet and in, came off of the play of the guards up top, who combined for 21 assists on their own in finding the pair on a regular basis. Of those 21 tallies, 12 of them, alone, came from senior point guard Molly Hoover. Not surprisingly, that mark impressed McKenzie, who has praised the entire unit all season for its “team effort and unselfishness.”
While the low-post duo continued to do their thing in the second quarter, combining for eight points in the frame, it was Ali Smith who provided a nice spark for Notre Dame in the period. The senior ultimately helped spread the floor with her deft three-point shooting, nailing two treys in the quarter — including a three-pointer from the right wing at the halftime buzzer — to give the Lady Titans a 44-15 advantage at half.
“Ali came in and hit those two big three-pointers,” McKenzie said. “She brought some great energy to the defensive end of the floor. I’m really happy to see Ali coming in and making an impact. She didn’t feel really well before the game. I kept bringing her out and making sure that she was alright. She kept saying, ‘Yeah, I’m ok.’ I’m proud of her for hitting those big threes and stepping up the energy for us.”
In the third quarter of action, Clay, however, stepped up its game.
The Lady Panthers, who took care of the basketball in a better fashion in the second half behind the play of All-Southeast District honoree Skylar Artis, jumped out to an 8-4 spurt to begin the third quarter of play as Warnock and Sophia Balestra — who combined for eight points apiece during the contest — used their relentless motors to help aid the spurt. Cameron DeLotell, who scored seven points herself, nailed a three during the run to cut the Notre Dame lead to 48-23.
However, a thunderous block by Dettwiller in the middle of the lane — which led to a runner in the lane by Hoover — changed the momentum for good, as the Lady Titans ultimately went on a 10-3 run behind contributions from its underclassmen duo of Ava Hassel and Taylor Schmidt, who combined for 17 points on the evening, to put the game away for good.
Still, McKenzie knows that Notre Dame hasn’t reached its peak — and that’s a scary sign.
“It’s hard to complain about a 30-point victory on the road, but I just said, ‘Hey, we can get better,’” McKenzie said. “That’s what you want out of a team like this. You don’t want them to accept their average. You want them to keep stepping up and getting better. They realized that and they knew that (following the victory). They weren’t rah-rah-rah after the game because they knew that they didn’t play their best. We’ll get back to work in practice (on Tuesday) and hopefully, the seniors come in, set the tone, and ramp up the energy.”
Notre Dame, who also moved to 10-0 in the SOC I with the victory, will return home to host Symmes Valley on Thursday evening. Clay (9-4, 7-3 SOC I) has a big matchup looming at New Boston on Thursday evening.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT