PORTSMOUTH — Hitting historic numbers — especially in basketball — tends to bring out the contingent of a program’s past, present and likely future.
On Monday night, the Notre Dame Lady Titans turned to page 100 —as in a century note’s worth of consecutive victories in the Southern Ohio Conference Division I.
Yes, that’s correct, for the last time the Lady Titans lost a conference clash —the world was still months away from “Back to The Future Day (Oct. 21, 2015)”.
And actually, within a four-day span, the Green Lady Bobcats became back-to-back footnotes in Notre Dame’s history book —as the Lady Titans topped Green 59-22 late Monday, and indeed secured that coveted 100th SOC win.
On Thursday, the Bobcats became Notre Dame’s 99th league win in a row —a 57-29 decision in Franklin Furnace.
Monday’s matchup marked a makeup between the two clubs —as this time the Lady Titans tallied the opening 10 points, withstood an 8-2 Lady Bobcat run, and closed the second quarter by blanking the underdog ‘Cats with 14 unanswered points.
That 14-0 spurt, spearheaded by the Lady Titans’ airtight half-court defensive pressure, covered the final three minutes and 53 seconds of the opening half —as Notre Dame then shut out Green 9-0 in the opening 6:38 of the third frame.
In all, Notre Dame doubled up Green 16-8 in the opening period, stymied the Lady Bobcats to only four points apiece in cantos two and three —and finally played the final seven minutes and 17 seconds with the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule in effect.
Truth be told, the Lady Titans had the outcome in hand by halftime —now it was just a matter of celebrating the program’s proud milestone.
NDHS coaches and players of the past and present, but all at one time were participants in the amazing streak, posed for group photographs following.
J.D. McKenzie, the 12th-year and highly-successful Lady Titans head coach, was presented a plaque in recognition of the accomplishment — by Notre Dame High School Athletic Director Bob Boldman.
McKenzie is also the Notre Dame High School principal.
He spoke about the streak, which began in the 2014-15 season —as Notre Dame’s last league loss was against Eastern, which is now a member of the larger-school SOC II.
“I told the girls before the game that it’s just another game. It just has a number after it, and that happens to be 100. So it is special,” said McKenzie. “Blessed is the word I keep coming back to. All these girls that were here tonight have been a huge part of my life and my family’s life over the last 12 years. We’ve been fortunate enough to win a lot of games and championships. It’s truly a blessing to be here and coach here at Notre Dame. We talk about expectations a lot, and we set the bar pretty high. But we want that bar to be high. This year, we have a really young team, but we still want to compete at that high level. It doesn’t matter the size of the school, the enrollment, or what divisions our opponents are in. These girls have bought into that expectation, and have honored those past players who have set that standard here.”
As for the current group of Lady Titans, which sport no seniors this season by the way, they are closing in on another SOC I outright championship —as league win 100 in a row raised their record to 14-3.
Inside the division, they remain perfect at 10-0.
As for that league winning streak you ask, and just how long can it last?
For those into counting, the state record is 141 consecutive — by the private-school powerhouse that is indeed Columbus Africentric.
But McKenzie could concentrate only on Monday’s night win, which was again rooted in the Lady Titans’ defense.
Notre Dame didn’t trap the Lady Bobcats, but they didn’t need to either —as Green simply struggled shooting, passing, and especially entering the basketball into the interior.
The Lady Bobcats shot only 24-percent (6-of-25), including an icy 2-of-13 (15-percent) from three-point range.
They committed 15 turnovers as the Lady Titans turned all but two into takeaways, as seven separate passes were all deflected.
“It doesn’t matter what the uniform says. We have to go out and play our game and do what we do and not worry about what the other team does. When we played them on Thursday, they set a ton of ball screens for her (Green standout senior scorer Kasey Kimbler). So our gameplan today was to trap off those ball screens,” said McKenzie. “Once we settled in and got refocused with a couple of timeouts, we did pretty well defensively from that point on.”
Green coach Melissa Knapp concurred, citing her Lady Bobcats’ overall inexperience against Notre Dame’s defensive looks.
Those Green giveaways resulted in Notre Dame driving the other way and piling up layups —as the Lady Titans shot a sizzling 61-and-a-half percent on 24-of-39, including an even 60-percent (21-of-35) from inside the arc.
“We just lost it there real fast. But that comes from a lot of inexperience. We’re playing with two starters from last year, and the rest are kids that play hard, but they just don’t have a lot of varsity experience,” said Knapp. “And their (Lady Titans) half-court defense is sweltering. We tried to get the ball into Kasey’s hands, but they make it tough for her to give it up. You don’t want Kasey getting open and shooting threes, so that was a smart gameplan by them, and they executed well.”
Individually, Annie Dettwiller dialed up a game-high 16 points — on 7-of-8 shooting and 2-of-3 free throws.
No other Lady Titan reached double figures, but Katie Strickland scored nine points and Ella Kirby canned seven — including a three-pointer which made it 10-0.
Strickland was 3-of-4 from the foul line while Kirby converted 2-of-2 —as Gracie Ashley, Annabelle Ball, Bree Hicks and Kaylyn Darden dropped in six points apiece, including a pair of fourth-quarter three-balls by the reserve regular Darden.
Notre Dame doubled up on the rebounding totals (23-12) as well — with Strickland securing seven and Ashley another five.
For the Lady Bobcats, which fell to 4-9 and 3-6 in the SOC I, Kasey Kimbler and Anna Knapp netted 10 points apiece —while senior Kaylee Christian meshed a pair of fourth-quarter freebies.
In the first quarter, Knapp nailed a three off the wing for Green’s opening points —but by then, five minutes and five seconds had gone by.
But Kimbler scored a deuce and a trey over a 46-second span —and suddenly the Lady Bobcats only trailed 12-8 with 1:14 left to play.
However, a Knapp basket just 13 seconds in — and again at the 3:53 mark — accounted for Green’s only second-period points.
In the third, Knapp split a pair of free throws at the 1:22 juncture to make it 43-13 — as a Kimbler layup tripled up the count (48-16).
The Lady Bobcats’ fourth quarter consisted of two tosses apiece from Christian and Knapp, and Kimbler’s 3-of-4.
“Just have to get back at it and work harder and keep trying to improve,” said Coach Knapp.
Meanwhile, the Lady Titans try to extend upon this historic winning streak —and continue their yearly conquests of SOC I foes.
“We want to be the best team we can be,” said McKenzie. “Doesn’t matter who we are playing. We’re working on stuff for us, not anybody else.”
* * *
Green 8 4 4 6 —22
Notre Dame 16 18 16 9 — 59
GREEN 22 (4-9, 3-6 SOC I)
Anna Knapp 3 3-4 10, Kasey Kimbler 3 3-4 10, Kaylee Christian 0 2-2 2, Emily Brady 0 0-0 0, Mylee Brown 0 0-0 0, Makayla Laber 0 0-0 0, Isabella Conley 0 0-0 0, Natalie Butler 0 0-0 0, Mylee Hunt 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 6 8-10 22; Three-point field goals: 2 (Anna Knapp and Kasey Kimbler 1 apiece)
NOTRE DAME 59 (14-3, 10-0 SOC I)
Ella Kirby 2 2-2 7, Kamryn Bradford 0 0-0 0, Annie Dettwiller 7 2-3 16, Gracie Ashley 3 0-0 6, Katie Strickland 3 3-4 9, Lilly Madden 0 0-0 0, Maddie Entler 0 0-0 0, Savannah Holtgrewe 1 0-0 2, Bree Hicks 3 0-0 6, Annabelle Ball 3 0-0 6, Kaylyn Darden 2 0-0 6, Mallory Boland 0 0-0 0, Alivia Taylor 0 1-2 1; TOTALS 24 8-11 59; Three-point field goals: 3 (Kaylyn Darden 2, Ella Kirby 1)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved