PORTSMOUTH – Just as things were looking slightly murky for the Notre Dame Titans on Monday, they took their game to another level.
In the latter stages of the first quarter, the Titans trailed on their home court to Valley 11-7 as they struggled to limit the Indians points.
Yet when they flipped their switch, it was all Valley could do to stop the train barreling towards them.
“We were worried about today because Valley is a solid team, and Mark (Merritt) does a great job with them,” said Notre Dame head coach J.D. McKenzie following the Titans 58-26 win over the Indians on Monday. “Coming after a big win on Saturday vs. Huntington (WV), I looked at this as a little bit of a trap game. They have a lot of good shooters and he runs some good stuff to get them open. We changed some things up, started denying Bre Call the ball. Defensively we tried giving them some different looks, offensively we started being a little more patient.”
After trailing by four, Notre Dame proceeded to go on a 13-0 run to close out the first quarter, taking a 20-11 lead into the second.
But they wouldn’t stop there. If you’re allowed to count runs over the span of various quarters, which we will for the sake of this argument, Notre Dame went on to outscore Valley 43-9 from the moment they trailed 11-7 in the late stages of the first quarter all the way to the end of the third quarter in an incredible display of defense.
Maybe the story of the game, besides the insane run the Titans went on, was how well Isabel Cassidy played.
The sophomore came out firing in the first half, scoring a game high 11 first half points off three threes and a made two. Thanks to a basket made in the fourth, Cassidy finished her night with 13 points while guard Taylor Schmidt recovers from an injury suffered on Saturday.
“She’s kind of like a hidden gem for us because our guard position at the beginning of the season was so deep,” said McKenzie. “She’s been a JV player for us, played in varsity some games for us. And when Taylor (Schmidt) went down, she kind of fits that mold of what Taylor does. She’s long, she’s quick, she’s athletic. She shoots the ball really well. Her decision making is still a little young, but she’s growing, and she’s got a great career ahead of her.”
Katie Dettwiller finished with a game high fourteen points, almost quietly. The senior center that has already signed her letter of intent to play at division one college basketball at Saint Francis University has a major impact on every single play, even if sometimes it feels like her numbers go overlooked.
“They were obviously early on trying to pack it in and limit her touches. She did a good job of getting her own touches off of offensive rebounds. When she’s drawing a double team, we’re not going to force it in to her. The good thing is we were able to hit some outside shots which means they have to come out and guard us and we’re going to get it to her.”
With just seven games left in their regular season and still boasting an undefeated 15-0 record, Notre Dame is still trying to take their season one game at a time, while maybe discussing a potential tournament run here and there.
“We talk a little bit about the tournament, we mention the tournament and making a run,” said McKenzie. “But other than that, we’re talking about the next opponent and what we’re going to do, and then the next opponent and what they’re going to do. We’ve got Eastern on Thursday, and then a big game with Oak Hill next Monday. So we’re going to keep taking it one game at a time, and they do a good job of staying grounded and not getting too caught up in what your record is.”
Notre Dame: 20-12-18-8 – 58
Valley: 11-3-6-6 – 36
Notre Dame: 22 FG, 3 3PT (Cassidy 3), 7/10 FT. Scoring: K. Dettwiller 14, Cassidy 13, Hassel 12, Smith 7, Schaefer 6, C. Dettwiller 4, Webb 2
Valley: 10 FG, 1 3PT (Call), 5/12 FT. Scoring: Call 7, Conaway 5, Gilliland 5, Howard 4,
Buckle 2, Hettinger 2, Fitch 1
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT