IRONTON – If you’re going to lose, it’s better to do so when it isn’t a win or go home situation. Notre Dame is undefeated no more, but the Titans’ season is still extremely alive and well.
Falling 34-27 to Waynesville, the AP’s No. 4 ranked team in Division IV, at Ironton High School Saturday, Notre Dame (16-1) savored their first taste of defeat this season. But the lessons learned from the loss may prove to be vital down the road.
“I think both teams, especially in half court defenses, were super strong tonight,” Notre Dame coach JD McKenzie said. “What we talked about going in was if we limit our live-ball turnovers and don’t let them score in transition, we’d make it hard on them. But we turned the ball over too much and that was the difference in the game. It’s a great learning experience for us going forward.”
The Titans were superb on defense, holding the Spartans (16-0) to just 25 percent shooting. But they also turned the ball over 22 times which was, as McKenzie said, the difference.
“The girls hate this right now. But I think going forward, this could be a blessing for us,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said Waynesville was the best team his Titans have faced this season, both offensively and defensively. The Spartans held lived up to that billing, holding 6-foot-4 center Katie Dettwiller to just six points.
With Dettwiller unable to score, Notre Dame’s offense hit a lull.
“We tried one-hundred different things to get Katie touches,” McKenzie said. “I think we got a little impatient sometimes offensively. When you’re used to scoring at a high rate and you’re seeing things you don’t normally see … you have to give a lot of credit to Waynesville. They’re ranked where they are for a reason. But I’m really proud of my girls for their effort tonight.”
One positive … a continuing positive … was the play of guards Isabel Cassidy and Olivia Smith. Cassidy hit two huge 3-point field goals while Smith played a good floor game, distributing the basketball well and crashing the glass.
“We’ve been putting Olivia on everybody’s best player,” McKenzie said. “She held [Rachel] Murray to 10 points today. She’s the school’s all-time leading scorer, so I thought she did a heck of a job tonight. Isabel grows every game. The moment is never too big for her. She’s a sophomore with four or five starts under her belt. But you couldn’t tell that by watching today.”
Tale of the tape
Dettwiller gave the Titans their first lead, at 4-2, with 5:35 left in the first quarter. That was in the middle of a 9-2 run to begin the game. But Waynesville cut the lead to 9-8 heading into the second. Dettwiller scored again with 5:11 left in the first half, giving Notre Dame a 12-7 lead, but the Spartans answered again, going on a 7-2 run to end the half, forcing a 14-14 tie.
In the third, the two programs traded the lead back and forth. Ava Hassel hit a 3 with 4:53 left, giving the Titans a 17-14 edge before Cassidy followed suit at the 1:04 mark, making it 20-19. But when Waynesville took a 21-20 edge with 10.3 seconds left, on a bucket via Lynzie Hartshorn, it marked the final time the lead would change hands.
Cassidy hit another 3 with 6:29 left in regulation to cut Waynesville’s advantage to 25-23 but that was as close as the Titans would come to retaking the lead.
Statistically, Hassel led the Titans with nine points, six rebounds and two assists while Dettwiller added six points and a game-high 13 boards. Cassidy finished with six points, Hash had four points and six rebounds, and Olivia Smith added two points, four rebounds and two assists.
For Waynesville, Carli Brown scored 10 points while Rachel Murray had eight points and three rebounds. Marcella Sizer also helped out, scoring four points and grabbing nine rebounds.
What’s on tap
The No. 7 ranked Titans will get right back at it, traveling to New Boston Monday evening.
“There are little things we could’ve been better at, like our decision making,” McKenzie said. “We’re used to scoring in transition a lot. I didn’t feel like we did a good job of running the floor like we normally do. So that’s certainly one thing we can work on, and we can be more physical, holding our box outs a little longer and things like that … it’s just a learning experience.”
Notre Dame: 9-5-6-7 — 27
Waynesville: 2-12-8-12 — 34
Notre Dame: 10-37 FG, 3-6 FT, 3-14 3pt. (Cassidy 2), 34 rebounds (Dettwiller 13), 22 turnovers, 6 assists (Smith 2, Hassel 2). Scoring: Hassel 9, Dettwiller 6, Cassidy 6, Hash 4, Smith 2.
Waynesville: 11-44 FG, 8-12 FT, 2-17 3pt. (Murray 1, Brown 1), 18 rebounds (Sizer 9), 10 turnovers, 4 assists (Hartshorn 2). Scoring: Brown 10, Butterbaugh 8, Murray 8, Sizer 4, Hartshorn 4.
Reach Derrick Webb at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @dw1509.