SOUTH WEBSTER — Notre Dame led at the change of each quarter on Saturday, but it was a late run that ultimately helped the Lady Titans avoid a season-opening road defeat.
Trailing host South Webster 48-40 following consecutive timeouts by coach J.D. McKenzie, Notre Dame put together a 14-2 run in the waning minutes to claim a 54-50 win.
In the late stages, the Lady Titans dialed in on the longball — connecting on four made threes for each of their four field goals in the final frame while freshman Annie Dettwiller hit the game’s final two free throws.
While the scores on the offensive end were what pushed ND ahead, it was the defensive pressure which ultimately led to those chances.
“We were able to get into our full-court press and turn them over a little bit,” McKenzie said, following the game. “Able to get out in transition, get some good looks at the basket and we were able to get our momentum going. Both teams made a lot of mistakes that coaches are going to go back on film and look at how we’ll have to clean some stuff up. But when it came to crunch time, they could have wilted down eight, but we did the things we needed to win.”
In taking an eight-point lead prior to Notre Dame’s final run, South Webster also used its defense to make the defending Division IV regional runner-up uncomfortable with the ball.
“I thought in the fourth quarter when we made a little run, our girls were active defensively,” Lady Jeeps coach Ryan Dutiel said. “I was really proud of them because they took it to the rim and converted. They weren’t intimidated by the size or height of their bigs.”
South Webster was led by junior Bri Claxon’s game-high 25 points — 13 of which came in the second quarter.
Claxon and freshman Skylar Zimmerman combined to score 34 of the Lady Jeeps’ 50 points on 14 made field goals.
“Bri and Skylar are the ones that make our offense go,” Dutiel said. “When it comes to Bri, she’s a heck of a player. She’s probably the fastest player in the county in getting from to point-A to point-B on the basketball court. Her skill level, it’s a blessing to have.”
Ava Hassel had four of the Lady Titans’ six three-point makes, including three during the fourth quarter.
Hassel’s team-high 16 was just ahead of Annie Dettwiller’s 14 in the sophomore’s first career varsity start.
Isabel Cassidy scored 13 points in the first game of her senior season, while fellow senior Claire Dettwiller had nine on three made field-goal attempts.
McKenzie said following the win that where some of their typical offensive execution was missing, he expects his young team to learn from the in-game experience in their games and practices to come.
“We had a lot of stuff we missed offensively,” McKenzie said. “Annie starting her first varsity game, Kamryn (Bradford) starting her first varsity game, and everyone I brought off the bench was a freshman. It’s a good experience for them, they’re going to get better and settle in a bit. Offensively, especially against zone defense, we have to get a lot better.”
South Webster traveled to Valley on Monday for its Southern Ohio Conference Division II opener — its second game in three days despite having less than two full weeks of practice.
As the season progresses, Dutiel says he’s looking for his team to build off Saturday’s performance in going toe-to-toe with one of the top Division IV programs in the Southeast District.
“I thought we mentally made a few errors there at the end of the fourth quarter,” Dutiel said. “We just should have pulled it back out and tried to break down the defense a little bit better. That’s just something we’ve got to work on, altogether we’ve only had them for about eight days. Really, really pleased and it’s something to build on.”
Prior to the start of its SOC I title defense run for the sixth straight season, Notre Dame will travel across the Ohio River for a non-league contest against 16th Region Power Ashland (Ky.) on Saturday (Nov. 28).
From Nov. 30 on, it’s six straight SOC I contests for the Lady Titans — before a long Christmas break beginning with a road trip to Clay on Monday.
“We’re just hoping to be able to play them, and stay healthy,” McKenzie said. “We talked to the team that the teams that make tournament runs might not be the best team, it might be the team that stays the healthiest and gets lucky. We’re just hoping to play and be able to defend our title. Practice has been so fun because they’re so young and they’re getting better every day.”
Notre Dame 9 15 13 17 — 54
South Webster 7 15 14 14 — 50
NOTRE DAME (1-0) 54
Ava Hassel 6 0-0 16, Ella Kirby 0 0-0 0, Kamryn Bradford 0 1-3 1, Annie Dettwiller 3 7-13 14, Annabelle Ball 0 0-0 0, Claire Dettwiller 3 3-6 9, Isabel Cassidy 5 2-2 13, Katie Strickland 0 0-0 0, Gracie Ashley 0 1-2 1; TOTALS 17 14-26 54; Three-point field goals: 6 (Ava Hassel 4, Annie Dettwiller and Isabel Cassidy 1 apiece)
SOUTH WEBSTER (0-1) 50
Faith Maloney 3 0-0 6, Liz Shupert 2 0-0 6, Brooklyn Blanton 0 0-0 0, Bri Claxon 12 0-1 25, Kerith Wright 0 0-0 0, Skylar Zimmerman 2 4-8 9, Riley Raynard 1 0-0 2, Kennedy Murphy 0 0-0 0, Bella Claxon 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 21 4-9 50; Three-point field goals: 4 (Liz Shupert 2, Bri Claxon and Skylar Zimmerman 1 apiece)
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