McDERMOTT — The 14.8-mile drive from Sunrise Avenue to Northwest High School in McDermott is one that the Notre Dame Lady Titans have grown accustomed to making.
Northwest is the usual site for many of the Division IV sectional tournament games within the Southeast District, so it’s no real surprise that the Lady Titans may have put together their best performance of the 2020-21 season to date in Mohawk Country.
After holding a 34-11 halftime lead, Notre Dame outscored Northwest by one point in the second half to claim its seventh win of the season — 67-43 — in as many tries.
Unofficially, the Lady Titans had advantages in both rebounding and turnover margins, which allowed their offense to flourish on the opposite end.
ND’s defense forced 17 Lady Mohawk turnovers, while committing just 13 themselves.
On the glass, ND grabbed 26 rebounds while holding Northwest to 22.
Advantages in those key categories is what helped Notre Dame establish — and hold onto — its lead, coach J.D. McKenzie said after the game.
“We were pretty aggressive full court. In the first half, we weren’t forcing a lot of turnovers, but it felt like we got them out of rhythm offensively,” McKenzie said. “We rebounded well, got out in transition. We were making shots and anytime you’re making shots, you can kind of dictate what you want to do defensively.”
Northwest was held to just five and six points in the first and second quarters, respectively — something Lady Mohawks coach Dave Frantz said set them back early on.
“Can’t take anything away from Notre Dame — they’re one of the best teams we’ve ever seen in this gym,” Frantz said. “And they’re a full team. Hassel is a phenomenal player, but even with Cassidy, Dettwiller, there’s not a weak link to them. Early in the game, I think we got shook up. We’d make a mistake and we’d let it affect us and take some aggression away.”
Continuing her blistering pace in ND’s unbeaten start was senior guard Ava Hassel.
Hassel poured in a career-high 31 points, nearly outscoring Northwest herself by the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter — when ND held a 61-32 lead.
Isabel Cassidy scored seven of her 11 points in the first half, while sophomore Annie Dettwiller added nine of her own.
The Lady Titans — again no strangers to playing at Northwest — rained in 10 made threes, seven coming courtesy of Hassel’s career night.
Kamryn Bradford, Ella Kirby and Cassidy also each made a three apiece.
“Besides playing at Notre Dame, this is one of my favorite gyms to play in,” McKenzie said. “Always play our sectionals here and since I’ve been here, haven’t lost a game here. Seems like we shoot the ball well here, so it’s comfortable.”
Northwest kept pace with Notre Dame in the second half, only being outscored by one point over the final 16 minutes.
Senior Haidyn Wamsley scored 13 of her team-high 15 points in the second half, including knocking down each of the Lady Mohawks’ three threes.
Junior Ava Jenkins also reached double figures for Northwest, scoring eight of her 10 in the final two periods.
“Halftime we made some adjustments — changed our defense up, changed a little bit on offense. The major adjustment we made was with our mentality,” Frantz said. “We wanted them to be fighters. If you mess up, come back down and don’t let it affect you. I thought our second half was very good for us and was something we needed.”
Although it’s the Lady Mohawks’ first out-of-conference loss of the season, Frantz said he’s glad for the challenge playing one of the top teams in the district brought to his team.
He knows they’ll take away some positives from their play.
“Could have easily taken a night off, but wanted to be able to play even though we knew we were the underdog,” Frantz said. “We knew we needed a workout before we go back into playing our SOC II schedule. We got a lot of things out of this, even though the result didn’t go our way.”
Northwest (5-2) will continue its venture in the tough Southern Ohio Conference Division II slate with a home game against Minford on Monday (Jan. 4).
As for the unbeaten Lady Titans, they’re set to host one of the top teams south of Columbus in Division IV — Sugar Grove Berne Union.
Berne Union fell to eventual regional champ Fort Frye in the 2020 D-IV regional semis 37-28 — their first and only loss of last season’s campaign.
“Berne Union’s going to be tough. They’re one of the better teams that we’ve played, ever,” McKenzie said. “They’re really good — we’re going to have to have an A+ effort. If we play clean and aggressive and are making some shots, we’re going to play with them. If we get sloppy, they’re going to burn us on it. I’m excited to gauge where we are against one of the top teams in the state.”
Notre Dame will host the Lady Rockets on Saturday (Jan. 2) night with tipoff set for 6:30 p.m.
* * *
Notre Dame 15 19 17 16 — 67
Northwest 5 6 10 22 — 43
NOTRE DAME 67 (7-0)
Charlee Lansing 0 0-0 0, Ava Hassel 11 2-2 31, Ella Kirby 1 0-0 3, Mollie Creech 0 0-0 0, Kamryn Bradford 1 0-0 3, Annie Dettwiller 4 1-2 9, Claire Dettwiller 1 0-0 2, Isabel Cassidy 5 0-0 11, Annabelle Ball 0 0-0 0, Ashley Holtgrewe 0 0-0 0, Gracie Ashley 1 0-0 2, Katie Strickland 2 2-2 6; TOTALS 26 5-6 67; Three-point field goals: 10 (Ava Hassel 7, Ella Kirby, Kamryn Bradford and Isabel Cassidy 1 apiece)
NORTHWEST 43 (5-2)
Terah Webb 0 0-0 0, Valerie Copas 3 1-3 7, Harley Rigsby 0 0-0 0, Haidyn Wamsley 6 0-0 15, Daria Compton 1 0-0 2, Ava Jenkins 5 0-0 10, Faith Jewett 1 0-0 2, Reagan Lewis 1 1-4 3, Audrey Knittel 1 0-0 2, Kloe Montgomery 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 19 2-7 43; Three-point field goals: 3 (Haidyn Wamsley 3)
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