PORTSMOUTH — What to do if it’s snowing outside along Sunrise Avenue?
For the Notre Dame Lady Titans, turn up the heat —and turn it to 80 in fact.
That’s defensively what the host Lady Titans did on Thursday night against the Green Bobcats, stymieing Green to single digits in all four quarters —en route to almost scoring 70 themselves.
While Green never even got to 30, Notre Dame didn’t show any rust itself from having 10 days off —as the Titans turned back the Bobcats 69-27 in a key early-season Southern Ohio Conference Division I girls basketball bout.
With the victory, the undefeated Lady Titans raised their latest perfect SOC I record to 4-0 —part of 5-0 overall.
Notre Dame also extended its incredible SOC I winning streak to 80 games, as the maximum that streak can reach in this coronavirus-impacted campaign is 90.
“You would know that better than I would,” said NDHS coach J.D. McKenzie, with a laugh and when informed of what the streak was believed to be.
Another 10 Titan wins, assuming all SOC I games get played AND Notre Dame does in fact win them all, would make it a sixth consecutive 14-for-14 in capturing a sixth straight division championship.
As for checking off other nice round even numbers on Thursday, the Titans nearly hit three of those — scoring almost 30 first-quarter points followed by nearly netting 60 following three frames and 70 by game’s end.
Notre Dame did hit an even 40 by halftime, as Ava Hassel had an assist on a excellent backdoor cut to Isabel Cassidy with 45 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
But the Titans took the wind out of Green’s sails from the start with their swarming full-court press, which they applied all throughout the first half —and turned the Bobcats over 18 times.
For the entire game, the Bobcats —benefiting from the Titans taking off the pressure in the second half —committed 22 turnovers, and only attempted 29 shots with 10 total field goals.
McKenzie said the Titans’ 10 days between games gave them an opportunity to focus almost exclusively on defense during practice.
“We talked at the beginning of the year about Green being one of the teams we had to knock off in the conference if we wanted to repeat again. They have a lot coming back. The last 10 days, we’ve worked a lot defensively and on our intensity. Our intensity in practice has went through the roof and that really showed tonight,” said the coach. “I said no matter what happens how we shoot or anything like that, I just wanted us to play our butts off defensively and run the floor. We came out right away and three minutes gone by in the game, we looked really good.”
While the Titans looked good, the Bobcats did not.
After Annie Detwiller scored twice for a 4-1 ND advantage only a minute and 20 seconds in, Green coach Melissa Knapp called for a 30-second timeout.
Green’s Kame Sweeney scored for a 4-3 deficit at the six-minute mark, but the Bobcats —on an Anna Knapp basket —didn’t score again until the 2:35 point.
By then, the Titans staked a 16-3 advantage, were scoring off stickbacks and steals, and getting Coach Knapp to use another 30-second timeout with only 2:51 gone by.
“We scored a lot in transition, a lot off turnovers, and a lot off offensive rebounds,” said McKenzie. “I felt like every time we got a shot, we had a chance to get that offensive rebound. If you’re not turning the ball over, that gives you a pretty good chance to win the game.”
Ten more Titan markers over the next two minutes, including three-point goals by Ella Kirby and Kamryn Bradford, ballooned the lead to 26-5.
Kasey Kimbler made it 26-7 with a Bobcat basket, but the speedy and heady Hassel —with her 10th point of the opening period —beat the buzzer for a 21-point (28-7) edge.
Hassel hit for a game-high 19 points on seven field goals and a perfect 5-of-5 foul shots —with 14 coming in the first half.
She made a midcourt steal and sprinted in maddening fashion for her final first-half field goal, which upped the advantage to 29 (38-9) for the second time in the first 16 minutes.
Detwiller went for 10 on four field goals and 2-of-4 foul shots — all of which were in the first two quarters.
Kirby connected two deuces and two treys towards 10 points, as all dozen of the Titans which were suited up played —and all but two scored.
Cassidy chipped in seven on three baskets and a split of third-frame free throws.
In fact, with most of the reserves playing the entire second half — Notre Dame did outscore Green 29-16, pushing the lead to 40 (59-19) by third quarter’s end.
Katie Strickland and Annabelle Ball bagged six second-half points apiece —on two field goals and 2-of-2 freebies.
Notre Dame’s largest margin stood at 69-26 with 26 seconds remaining.
“Our younger girls played great. They came in the second half, gave us great minutes and did a lot of good things for us. They didn’t turn the ball over, they ran the offense and played great defense, and gave our starters some rest,” said McKenzie. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. They are getting better every day and are going to be a really good group.”
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, beset by coronavirus complications impacting the program and last playing exactly two weeks ago against East for their only other game, never posted double digits in any one quarter —and only had 11 in the entire first half.
From the first quarter’s 15-second mark on, Green got its only second-period points on baskets by Kimbler (1:55 left) and Sweeney (1:11 left).
Kimbler paced the Bobcats with 16 points, including three second-half threes.
Sweeney scored six on three buckets, as Knapp admitted her charges are simply out of game shape.
“I don’t normally make excuses, but we’re out of shape right now,” she said. “It’s not the same not playing games. We’ve got some practice in this last week, but it’s not enough. We’re not the same basketball team as we were two weeks ago. It’s like daylight and dark. We’re a victim of the times right now. Playing basketball in a pandemic. That’s where we’re at. You have to play every game like it’s your last, but we surely didn’t play that way tonight. Notre Dame is a great team and forces turnovers like crazy. That sealed the deal right there. We have to get back to the drawing board, step up our conditioning, and just get back to getting games in.”
The Bobcats were scheduled to play at Ironton St. Joseph on Monday, but that contest too now has been postponed.
Green’s game against visiting Symmes Valley — also inside the SOC I — has been rescheduled for Wednesday.
Notre Dame will host East in a league makeup matchup on Tuesday — as tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
That’s another day of expected cold, so look for the Lady Titans to turn it up again.
“I’m really proud of the girls tonight. I think we’re going in the right direction,” said McKenzie. ”We’ll play when we can, and we’ll just keep preparing when we don’t have games.”
Green 7 4 8 8 — 27
Notre Dame 28 12 19 10 — 69
GREEN 27 (1-1, 1-1 SOC I)
Kasey Kimbler 6 1-4 16; Kimberly Brown 0 2-5 2, Kame Sweeney 3 0-0 6, Charli Blevins 0 0-2 0, Anna Knapp 1 0-0 2, Brelan Baldridge 0 0-0 0, Kaylee Christian 0 0-0 0, Emily Brady 0 1-2 1; TOTALS 10 4-13 27; Three-point field goals: 3 (Kasey Kimbler 3)
NOTRE DAME 69 (5-0, 4-0 SOC I)
Charlee Lansing 1 0-0 2, Ava Hassel 7 5-5 19, Ella Kirby 4 0-0 10, Mollie Creech 0 0-0 0, Kamryn Bradford 1 0-0 3, Annie Detwiller 4 2-4 10, Claire Detwiller 2 0-0 4, Isabel Cassidy 3 1-2 7, Annabelle Ball 2 2-2 6, Ashley Holtgrewe 1 0-0 2, Gracie Ashley 0 0-0 0, Katie Strickland 2 2-2 6; TOTALS 27 12-15 69; Three-point field goals: 3 (Ella Kirby 2, Kamryn Bradford 1)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved