WHEELERSBURG — After losing 47-33 Saturday to Lynchburg Clay, who hasn’t tasted defeat this season, the Pirates weren’t about to repeat their mistakes Wednesday night as the undefeated Titans came to town.
Wheelersburg (10-2) handed Notre Dame its first loss of the season as the Pirates picked up a 62-20 victory.
“The biggest different for us tonight was the passion and the energy,” Pirates head coach Dusty Spradlin said. “We played two undefeated teams in a row. Lynchburg got the best of us Saturday at their place, but we didn’t really feel like we played with that energy or that passion that we did tonight.”
Wheelersburg came out of fire, jumping out to an 18-0 lead before ending the first quarter with a 26-3 advantage.
“We made some shots early and got off to a good start, and it was the opposite of Lynchburg,” Spradlin said. “It’s hard to continue to make yourself play but you have to play with that energy and that passion because good things happen when you play hard.”
Sydney Holden led the Pirates with a game-high 16 points. Makayla Akers also had a strong scoring night, finishing with 13 points.
“We’re trying to share the ball, we’re trying to get some of the other kids involved,” Spradlin said. “Obviously Sydney Holden is going to be the focus for most people. We’ve got to continue to make sure we develop a second and a third scorer. It was a good team effort offensively. Ball movement was good but there were still times we probably try to force the pass a little too much.”
As for Notre Dame (10-1), Titans head coach JD McKenzie wanted to prepare his team for postseason play by scheduling a quality non-conference opponent.
“For us to play a team as good as Wheelersburg in the tournament, we’re going to have to get pretty far because that’s a really good basketball team,” McKenzie said. “It’s not roses every night and we found that out tonight. This could be good for us if we respond the right way.”
After tailing 46-13 at halftime, McKenzie wanted to see how his players would respond to the adversity.
“We knew a miracle was going to have to happen for us to win but we knew we could go out there and earn some respect,” McKenzie said. “Our offense obviously never got going. I thought defensively we played a little bit better in the third quarter.
“We didn’t come out and just give up, which is what I was looking for. We didn’t just fold up but I still have to give a lot of credit to ‘Burg, they’re really good. And I know my team is better than what we showed tonight.”
The Titans will be back in action Monday as they travel to Oak Hill. McKenzie knows it’ll be a pivotal affair for his team.
“We could go one of two ways,” McKenzie said. “We are going to take the rest of the week off and when they come back Monday, they could come back really hungry and want to finish out the season really strong, and not feel like we felt tonight again; or we could come back and feel sorry for ourselves. If we feel sorry for ourselves, this is going to happen again.”
The Pirates are off until 2016, more specifically Jan. 7, when they face the Valley Indians.
“We’ve got from now until January 7. We have a lot of time off. We are going to give the kids some time off and let them spend Christmas with their families. Then we’ll come back on Monday and we’ll try to get back to work,” Spradlin said.
Notre Dame 3 10 4 3 — 20
Wheelersburg 26 20 10 6 — 62
Notre Dame — Schaefer 1-3-5, Kayser 0-1-1, Dettwiller 4-0-8, L. Smith 2-2-6.
Wheelersburg — Hagens 2-0-4, Ruby 3-0-7, Kallner 3-0-8, Coleman 4-0-8, Holden 6-3-16, Salyers 2-2-6, Akers 6-0-13.
3-point field goals — Notre Dame 0; Wheelersburg 5 (Ruby, Kallner 2, Holden, Akers).
Records — Notre Dame 10-1; Wheelersburg 10-2.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.