PORTSMOUTH — Put simply, Notre Dame has handled its business — and in convincing fashion — for much of its first 12 games this season.
The Titans came into Thursday’s SOC I matchup at 11-0 while boasting a 35.2 point average margin of victory. Notre Dame (12-0, 9-0 SOC I) stayed undefeated with a 48-24 win over Clay at home, claiming their second win over the Panthers this season.
That’s all good and well, but according to Notre Dame coach J.D. McKenzie, his Titans have much to work on in order to get to where they want to be on the offensive side of the ball.
That statement alone should strike additional fear into every one of the Titans’ remaining opponents.
“Defense, for us, is always going to keep us in the game,” McKenzie said. “We pound that into our heads everyday. But at some point, you have to score the basketball. When you’re not scoring in transition … we missed some shots that we usually make. That kind of glares when they’re not falling. We have to work on offense and being able to click on our set plays a little bit better.”
While the Panthers (9-5, 7-2 SOC I) shot just 8-of-42 from the field, the Titans pieced together a 22-of-49 mark, but shot just 8-of-21 in the second half. That was, partly, due to the loss of guard Taylor Schmidt to injury. But it also had to do with shot selection.
“Our offense in the second half was very stagnant. I think we settled for some shots at times instead of getting the shot we wanted,” McKenzie said. “A big part of that is you lose Taylor for the second half with a nagging injury. She started off really well and I think she was going to have a big night. But we’re trying to focus on offensive flow. [Clay] did a good job of keeping the ball out of Katie [Detwiller’s] hands in the paint and we weren’t knocking down 3’s.”
And, in case you’re wondering, Schmidt will be just fine.
“Yeah, she’s OK. She’s been dealing with some lower body injuries this year,” McKenzie said. “She’s had a deep thigh bruise and a little ankle twist. The trainer just said it’d probably be best to keep her out the rest of the way tonight. But if we needed her, she’d have been ready to go.”
Bigger goals ahead
Many times, undefeated teams will get caught up in wins and losses. McKenzie said his coaching staff hasn’t addressed that with his players in the least bit.
“We never really talk about our record. That doesn’t come up,” McKenzie said. “We’re always talking about our next opponent and what our goals are. That’s the stuff that keeps you motivated. We’ve got some big games coming up. We want to win a conference and sectional championship and get back to the district title game. We hope we can take that next step and get to the state tournament. That’s what keeps us motivated. If we were 11-1 or 10-2, those goals would still be the same.”
Currently, the Titans are ranked as Division IV’s ninth-best team in Ohio.
Tale of the tape
Right off the bat, Schmidt and running mate Ava Hassel threw punches. The duo helped Notre Dame dart out to an 8-2 lead with 5:59 left in the first quarter before Dettwiller made it 12-2 with 4:10 left, forcing Clay to call its first timeout. By the start of the second, Notre Dame led 18-4.
In the second, more of the same took place. By halftime, the lead was at 32-11 after Hassel hit a buzzer-beating 3, stretching the lead to 21 for good measure.
As McKenzie mentioned, the Titans’ offense slowed down a bit in the final two quarters but not nearly enough to allow the Panthers back into the ballgame.
Hassel led all scorers with 15 points alongside three assists while Dettwiller posted a double-double, tallying 10 points and 10 rebounds. Schmidt ended the night with six points, Claire Dettwiller posted five points and four boards, and Lauren Campbell finished with four points and six rebounds. In total, nine different Titans graced the scoresheet.
Jensen Warnock led Clay with 11 points while Cameron DeLotell had nine. Sky Artis grabbed a team-high nine rebounds from her guard post and scored two points.
What’s on tap
Clay attempts to get back in the win column Monday at Whiteoak while Notre Dame will play Thursday, traveling to Symmes Valley.
“Our second team is super strong and gives us a great look everyday in practice, so we have that luxury,” McKenzie said. “We’re off until next Thursday and then have Division I Huntington (W. Va.) at Fairland. We’re going to get back to work.”
Clay: 4-7-6-7 — 24
Notre Dame: 18-14-8-8 — 48
Clay: 8-42 FG, 6-11 FT, 2-21 3pt. (Je. Warnock 1, DeLotell 1), 23 rebounds (Artis 9), 18 turnovers, 4 assists (Je. Warnock 2). Scoring: Je. Warnock 11, DeLotell 9, Artis 2, Gatti 2.
Notre Dame: 22-49 FG, 3-8 FT, 1-14 3pt. (Hassel 1), 31 rebounds (Dettwiller 10), 11 turnovers, 13 assists (Hassel 3). Scoring: Hassel 15, K. Dettwiller 10, Schmidt 6, C. Dettwiller 5, Campbell 4, Zheng 2, Smith 2, Hash 2, Schaeffer 2.