PORTSMOUTH — It certainly wasn’t planned, but the Notre Dame Lady Titans’ return home for the first time in the 2020-21 campaign also made for a seminal moment for one of the area’s best.
On a deep three-point attempt from back near the volleyball line in ND’s home opener versus Symmes Valley, Lady Titans senior Ava Hassel scored her 1,000th career point — a moment few come to realize but will always be remembered.
Three years and some change into her time playing at the varsity level, Hassel became the sixth Lady Titan under 11th-year head coach J.D. McKenzie to reach the 1,000-point mark — finishing the night with a game-high 21 to bring her total points scored to 1,016.
Notre Dame defeated the visiting Lady Vikings 68-31 to improve to 3-0 (2-0 SOC I) to begin the young season — and add another notch in their lengthy and all-important Southern Ohio Conference Division I winning streak.
The COVID-19 pandemic nearly threatened the start of the OHSAA winter sports season, but with no statewide delays thus far, Hassel was able to break the career mark in front of friends, family and classmates who’ve been there every step of the way.
“It just feels really good to be able to do it at home,” Hassel said. “I had a bunch of my family here, a bunch of family friends that were able to see it. I’ve been on this court my whole life it feels like, and it’s a great feeling to be able to do it here.”
Often times, it’s Notre Dame’s defensive pressure that results in the Lady Titans gaining possession and subsequently gaining opportunities to add to their score.
Their patented press and Hassel’s quickness have, on hundreds of occasions, resulted in quick scores on the opposite end — frustrating opponents and adding wins to their league streak all the while.
In Thursday’s win, Hassel’s six steals were part of their 20 team total.
McKenzie acknowledged that while he could ask his senior point guard to light-it-up every night, it’s the complete player she is that’s helped the Lady Titans reach new program heights during her first three seasons.
“That’s the great thing about her, she could score 20 or 30 every night if we asked her to. Instead we ask her to do different things, share the basketball,” McKenzie said. “She’s so well-rounded — she’s not just a scorer. She’s a great defender, and that’s what I’m most proud of her for. She’s probably worked harder on that and it’s now to where I think she’s probably one of the best defenders in the area. Love to see her get it (1,000 points) at home and couldn’t be more proud of her.”
The five-foot-five senior recently announced via tweet on Nov. 28 her commitment to DePauw University — an NCAA Division III liberal arts college located in Greencastle, Indiana.
An over four-hour drive from Portsmouth, Hassel said she’s looking forward to continuing her game at the next level.
Similar to playing at Notre Dame, DePauw’s standard speaks for itself.
The women’s program at DePauw won Division III National Championships in 2007 and 2013, while competing as a member of the North Coast Athletic Conference.
“I’m super excited, I love DePauw so much,” Hassel said. “I love all the players and coaches I’ve met so far. I can’t wait to see the different pace in the game and be able to continue playing the sport. I couldn’t ever imagine this season being my last time playing basketball comparatively.”
Hassel is one of five seniors on this year’s Notre Dame roster, including Isabel Cassidy, Claire Dettwiller, Ashley Holtgrewe and Chloe Delabar.
If the Lady Titan senior has goals of chasing 2012 graduate Jen Arnzen’s school record 1,269 career points, she’ll be doing so with a roster that’s learning the speed of the varsity game along the way.
But if you’re going to learn, who better to learn from than a senior class whose posted a 76-6 record in 82 career games at the high school level?
“We’ve just got to focus on one game at a time, one night at a time,” Hassel said. “We want to go undefeated in conference and move on from there. Really I don’t think there is a ceiling on this team. There’s so much talent on this team. Once we get the young girls going, we know they’re really going to step up. We’re trying to do a bunch of different things and try to make that carry over from the practice to the games, and I can just see everyone improving every single day.”
* * *
Symmes Valley 8 10 6 7 — 31
Notre Dame 16 16 26 10 — 68
SYMMES VALLEY 31 (0-1, 0-1 SOC I)
Jenna Malone 1 0-0 2, Morgan Lyon 2 3-3 7, Hailee Beckett 0 0-3 0, Jordan Ellison 1 0-3 3, Emma Castel 0 0-0 0, Desiree Simpson 2 0-0 4, Enola Cade 0 0-0 0, Kylee Thompson 3 0-2 7, Hailee Gordon 1 2-4 4, Kelsi Gothard 1 0-0 2, Alison Klaiber 0 0-0 0, Spring Ross 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 12 5-15 31; Three-point field goals: 2 (Kylee Thompson and Jordan Ellison 1 apiece)
NOTRE DAME 68 (3-0, 2-0 SOC I)
Ava Hassel 8 3-4 21, Mollie Creech 0 0-0 0, Kamryn Bradford 3 3-4 12, Annie Dettwiller 3 2-3 8, Claire Dettwiller 7 1-2 15, Isabel Cassidy 3 0-0 7, Annabelle Ball 0 0-0 0, Ashley Holtgrewe 1 0-0 3, Gracie Ashley 0 1-3 1, Katie Strickland 0 1-2 1; TOTALS 25 11-18 68; Three-point field goals: 7 (Kamryn Bradford 3, Ava Hassel 2, Isabel Cassidy and Ashley Holtgrewe 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