MCDERMOTT — Ten years of doing anything is a long time.
When he began his coaching tenure as the head girls coach at Notre Dame, J.D. McKenzie’s Lady Titans’ program had managed just one sectional title since 1984.
As a result of its 63-24 win in a Division IV sectional final at Northwest High School over Southern Ohio Conference Division I rival Clay, the girls program at Notre Dame captured its 10th-straight sectional title — a by-product of building as successful of a Division IV program as you’ll find in the Southeast District in that time span.
“That was very important my first year,” McKenzie said, reflecting on his first sectional title as Notre Dame’s coach a decade ago. “Sometimes you start overlooking it, but nothing’s guaranteed. We’ve had some battles in sectional games before. It means more that we’ve kept it going that long, it says a lot about how we keep rebuilding, reloading and getting better every year.”
In its 63-point total in Thursday’s sectional title win, Notre Dame attempted just three free throws, sinking two of them.
The 61 points not accounted from the charity stripe were scored on 28 made field goals.
The Titans managed a 41-12 advantage by halftime thanks to 19 first-half field goals. Taylor Schmidt and Lauren Campbell scored 10 apiece in the first half, while junior guard Ava Hassel scored eight of her 14 points in the second quarter.
Claire Dettwiller added six first-half points to Notre Dame’s total. In addition to Campbell and Dettwiller’s combined 16 points, the duo of bigs also grabbed 11 rebounds apiece to help the Lady Titans control the boards — something McKenzie was expecting to see from his senior and junior, respectively.
“Lauren (Campbell) and Claire (Dettwiller) ran the floor super well,” McKenzie said. “Lauren had a double-double by halftime; I told them before the game that I wanted a double-double out of each of them. If those two are going to rebound as well as they are, finish as well as they are, and run the floor as well as they are, that’s going to make us pretty good.”
Notre Dame’s defense limited Clay to just 16 points entering the fourth, when the Lady Panthers outscored Notre Dame 8-4 in the final frame as the OHSAA’s running-clock rule was in effect. Shaley Munion led Clay with a team-high nine points.
With Thursday’s sectional title win, Notre Dame heads back to Jackson High School to the Division IV district tournament in which they are the No. 1 seed — a place McKenzie admits the Lady Titans have a love/hate relationship with.
Notre Dame will be seeking its fourth straight district title next week at Jackson — but that’s just half the goal.
The real prize — the school’s first girls basketball regional championship and a trip in the state semifinals — will require three wins at Jackson and one in Pickerington for the Division IV regional title.
But first, they’ll face Manchester — 53-39 winners over South Webster in Thursday’s nightcap Division IV sectional final at Northwest — on Thursday, Feb. 20 in a district semifinal with tipoff slated for 6:15 p.m.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we’re just excited to be playing in that next round,” McKenzie said. “Going to scout them tonight; Excited to get back to Jackson. We have a love/hate relationship with that place, but we’d rather be playing there at this stage than not.”
Clay 6 6 4 8 — 24
Notre Dame 21 20 18 4 — 63
CLAY 24 (8-16)
Jaelyn Warnock 1 0-0 3, Shaley Munion 4 0-0 9, Megan Bazler 1 1-3 3, McKenzie Loper 2 0-0 6, Tabby Whitt 0 0-0 0, Kat Cochran 1 0-0 3, Kelsey Fowler 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 9 1-3 24; Three-point field goals: 5 (McKenzie Loper 2, Jaelyn Warnock, Shaley Munion and Kat Cochran 1 apiece)
NOTRE DAME 63 (21-2)
Charlee Lansing 0 0-0 0, Taylor Schmidt 7 0-1 14, Ava Hassel 5 0-0 14, Cassie Schaefer 2 0-0 5, Mollie Creech 0 0-0 0, Olivia Smith 3 0-0 6, Annie Dettwiller 0 0-0 0, Chloe Delabar 0 0-0 0, Claire Dettwiller 3 0-0 6, Isabel Cassidy 2 2-2 4, Kamryn Bradford 2 0-0 4, Madison Brown 0 0-0 0, Ashley Holtgrewe 0 0-0 0, Lauren Campbell 5 0-1 10, Paetyn Collins 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 28 2-3 63; Three-point field goals: 5 (Ava Hassel 4, Cassie Schaefer 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved