PORTSMOUTH — Notre Dame girls basketball head coach J.D. McKenzie felt as if Wednesday’s moment would come, sooner or later, for some time now.
“I’ve known probably for a long time, probably since she was in junior high, that this time was probably coming,” McKenzie said.
That moment was a historic one indeed, as Lady Titan senior Ava Hassel became the program’s all-time scoring leader on a made three-pointer during the first quarter of their 54-24 win over Symmes Valley in Southern Ohio Conference Division I play.
Hassel passed 2012 graduate Jenn Arnzen’s career mark of 1,269 career points, now sitting at 1,289 points during her ND career with a full postseason left to play.
“I’ve always looked up to the players before me, all the 1,000-point scorers before me and getting to see Katie (Dettwiller) and Lexi (Smith) do it on the team,” Hassel said. “It takes a lot of hard work, but our team and our coaches make it fun.”
The first to greet the new record-holder was of course her teammates on the court — those who’ve been part of helping the ND girls program reach historic heights such as last season’s best finish in school history.
Seniors Isabel Cassidy (15 points) and Claire Dettwiller (seven points) combined for 22 points in the win — and have seemingly done more than their share in making Hassel the player and ND the team the best they can be.
The coach and point guard duo agreed.
“Everyone wants the best for each other, and I think that showed last night because I wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” Hassel said, on Thursday.
“You’ve got to be really good and have good teammates to get to this point, and she’s no doubt had that her last four years,” McKenzie said.
Coming into the 2020-21 campaign, it was somewhat unclear how smooth things would go — as area teams attempted to navigate their way through a full season of games.
Hassel admitted she knew she was close to the 1,000-point mark entering her senior year, but tried to keep individual and career marks in the back of her mind in preparation for this season.
“It was just really fun, something that I’ve looked forward to. Coming into this season, I guess I knew I was close to 1,000 points and it was something that was in the back of my mind,” she said. “Wouldn’t have been able to get to it without my team’s support and all that they do.”
But her journey in doing so began long before Wednesday’s game, or this season.
Rather, it’s been a culmination of hard work — spending mornings and evenings, before and after practice, perfecting her craft.
“She’s an extremely hard worker, spends time before and after school, before practice doing the extra things — and that rubs off on people. We have a group of girls in here shooting at 7:15 a.m., and that doesn’t happen everywhere,” McKenzie said. “You want that, you want people to say, ‘She’s the leading scorer on the team and she’s putting in the most work,”… That rubs off. Speaks volumes to what she can do on the offensive end, but I like to brag about her defense.”
And although she wasn’t able to accomplish said goal in the Lady Titans’ always-loud home confines, Hassel said she was glad to be able to celebrate with friends and family in attendance in Willow Wood.
“Even though it wasn’t at home, we still had a good amount of fan support,” Hassel said. “The most important people were there, got to celebrate with my parents and my aunt — it was really wholesome.”
With just under two weeks in between the end of their regular season schedule and the beginning of the senior class’ final postseason journey, Hassel has a chance to set the all-time scoring benchmark at a previously unthought-of height.
If the Lady Titans are to push towards a fourth consecutive Division IV district championship, the points will surely follow.
“I’m glad to see her get it.” McKenzie said. “Now I’m interested in seeing how far she can get it, maybe get it to an unbreakable level. Another feather in her cap to the stuff she’s accomplished here — individually and team-wise.”
For Hassel and her senior teammates, they’re hoping to make this last ride a memorable one.
“For sure, I hope it goes as long as it can,” Hassel said. “Make the season go until it’s the end.”
* * *
Notre Dame 9 22 18 5 — 54
Symmes Valley 9 6 7 2 — 24
NOTRE DAME 54 (16-1, 10-0 SOC I)
Ava Hassel 9 0-0 22, Ella Kirby 0 0-0 0, Mollie Creech 0 0-0 0, Kamryn Bradford 0 0-0 0, Annie Dettwiller 1 3-8 5, Claire Dettwiller 3 1-2 7, Isabel Cassidy 4 5-6 15, Annabelle Ball 0 0-0 0, Ashley Holtgrewe 0 0-0 0, Gracie Ashley 0 0-1 0, Kaite Strickland 2 1-2 5; TOTALS 19 10-19 54; Three-point field goals: 6 (Ava Hassel 4, Isabel Cassidy 2)
SYMMES VALLEY 24 (8-6, 7-2 SOC I)
Jenna Malone 0 0-0 0, Morgan Lyons 1 0-0 3, Hailee Beckett 0 0-0 0, Jordan Ellison 1 0-0 2, Emma Casteel 0 0-0 0, Desiree Simpson 4 3-4 13, Enola Cade 0 0-0 0, Hailee Gordon 0 0-0 0, Kelsi Gothard 1 0-0 2, Alison Klaiber 0 0-0 0, Spring Ross 2 0-0 4; TOTALS 9 3-4 24; Three-point field goals: 3 (Desiree Simpson 2, Morgan Lyons 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