JACKSON – Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Notre Dame is heading to yet another district finals.
If you’ve heard that statement before, it’s because the Titans just clinched their fourth consecutive district finals appearance after their 67-37 district semifinals win over Federal Hocking Thursday at Jackson High School.
“It’s a lot better than not being here,” said Notre Dame head coach J.D. McKenzie following the Titans win on Thursday, “My first year of coaching here and we went to the district finals unexpectedly, had one of those cinderella runs. Didn’t have any seniors, so I thought we had a really good shot of going back, but it wasn’t for four or five years. This is the best time of the year for a basketball coach, getting to make a tournament run.”
Notre Dame may have had a brief lapse in the past without a district finals appearance, but those days are long gone. To start Thursday’s game, the Titans were their usual self to start their matchup with the Lancers hitting four of their first five threes to get things out and running to a 12-0 start.
“That’s one of the things that’s been kind of a weakness for us is that we’ve been streaky from three,” said McKenzie. “For us to be able to hit four of our first five threes and to get going from the outside because they were packing everything on Katie, that was exciting to see. Especially here at Jackson, our first game we play here we’re usually a little off maybe because of the different atmosphere.”
Katie Dettwiller, Notre Dame’s inside presence who has already singed with Division I Saint Francis in Pennsylvania, had an outstanding game for anyone, but a usual game for herself, which says a lot about the level she has played at this season. The senior big finished with a game high 20 points, eight rebounds, and a game high five blocks.
“We gave up some ball penetration at times, and at big key moments she had some big swats and kind of anchored us there in the paint. When you’ve got her back there, you can be so aggressive and negate some chances a lot back there. In the second half we found her more, got her some good looks and she was able to finish for us.”
At halftime, Notre Dame took a 31-17 lead into the locker room after outscoring the Lancers 12-7 in the second quarter. However, it was the third quarter that really helped propel the Titans to their 30 point win. A big part of that was Dettwiller’s sister, Claire Dettwiller, who had three steals on the defensive end and by game’s end had five points and five rebounds as well.
“Claire played a heck of a game tonight,” state McKenzie. “We’ve talked about that bench depth all year, she just gives you different looks. She’s strong, and her basketball IQ is super high. She knows where she’s supposed to be, where everybody else is supposed to be, she knows what’s going on.”
Notre Dame will face Eastern Meigs in the district finals after the Eagles defeated Clay in their district semifinals match, 49-30. And while it’ll be a familiar opponent for Notre Dame after the Titans pulled off 56-33 win over Eastern when they faced off on December 22nd, McKenzie says the Titans will be focused on doing what they do best in hopes of a second consecutive district title.
“We’re not going to change a whole lot of what we do,” said McKenzie when looking forward to game preparation in the upcoming week. “We’re going to try and make people adapt what we’re doing, maybe change what they’re going to do. We’re not going to change a lot, we’ll work on keeping the ball out of the paint, and we’ll keep working on turning the defender.”
ND: 19-12-20-16 – 67
FH: 10-7-4-16 – 37
ND: 31 FG, 7 3PT (Cassidy, Hassel, Schmidt 2), 8/11 FT. Scoring: Dettwiller 20, Hassel 14, Schmidt 10, Cassidy 8, Smith 3, Schaefer 2, Webb 2, Zheng 2, Hash 1
FH: 11 FG, 5 3PT (Tabler 4), 10/18 FT. Scoring: Beha 14, Tabler 12, Tolson 5, Rose 3, Baker 2, Smith 1
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT