Brock Netter, Staff Writer
PORTSMOUTH — If Notre Dame continues to play at the level it did on Tuesday, Division IV has a massive problem on its hands.
The Titans’ defense held Coal Grove to just 22 percent shooting from floor. Meanwhile offensively, they shot over 63 percent and took the Hornets to the woodshed with a 60-35 victory.
“We didn’t want Coal Grove to score in transition. That was the main thing,” Notre Dame coach J.D. McKenzie said. “There wasn’t much we changed in terms of our press defense or anything. But we gave up some open shots in transition early and switched to a zone defense, something we keep in our back pocket. Defensively, I think this is one of the best games we’ve had all season.”
Notre Dame (19-1) abandoned any type of long-distance shots, taking just five on the evening. But the Titans were relentless in attacking the rim, a charge led by Ava Hassel and Claire Dettwiller.
Hassel’s ability to break down a defender and use her speed to blow by them had the Hornets (19-2) on their heels all night, and the senior guard took full advantage.
Meanwhile, Dettwiller showed a soft touch around the rim, combined with a physical style of defensive play that helped her snatch rebounds like it was a lost art.
Together, the duo outscored Coal Grove 42-35 with Hassel having 25 points and Dettwiller finishing with a double-double of 17 points alongside 13 rebounds.
“Claire did a great job rebounding and Ava continued to attack downhill,” McKenzie said. “We went flat a handful of times, put their defender on an island against Ava and those were odds we liked. Claire showed great patience as did Annie [Dettwiller]. Both got some pick-and-roll action and were excellent finishing at the rim.”
The Titans jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead following a bucket and a foul from Annie Detwiller.
Despite trailing 11-5, Coal Grove answered back with an 8-2 run from Jaidyn Griffith and Abbey Hicks to tie the game before Hassel connected to keep the Titans ahead 15-13.
That last bucket going in was all Hassel needed to see, and she entered another stratosphere in the second. With the ball in her hands and an attack mentality, she single-handedly outscored Coal Grove 13-6 in the frame.
On the defensive side, as McKenzie mentioned, the Titans switched to zone and it was clear that it took the Hornets completely out of rhythm.
With Coal Grove slowing down and the Titans still running at a high pace, they won the frame 20-6 and led 35-19 at halftime.
“We closed out on their shooters very well and forced some rushed shots,” McKenzie said. “Because they couldn’t get out in transition, we made them slow down and run a half-court set. It led to them getting impatient and settling for shots they wouldn’t normally attempt, much less actually take.”
Claire Dettwiller scored the opening seven points in the third, pushing the lead to 20 points at 42-22.
For the remainder of the game, the lead never dipped below 15 points as the Titans cruised to their 19th win of the season.
“We’ve played some tough games against Trimble, Ashland (Ky), Oak Hill and others, but I think this is our most complete game,” McKenzie said. “You always want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year, but there’s still a couple things we have to clean up.”
After Hassel and Claire Dettwiller, Annie Dettwiller added nine points and four rebounds.
Notre Dame returns to action on Wednesday against Chesapeake before turning its focus towards the tournament in hopes of defending its district crown.
The top-seeded Titans host the winner of Whiteoak and East at 1 p.m., Feb. 20 to open tournament play.
“We have a lot of great pieces and very smart players surrounding one of, if not the best in the area,” McKenzie said. “But it’s the little things such as boxing out and not giving up dribble penetration as much. We’ve been a different team since that Berne Union loss. You never know where you’re at as a team until you play someone who can test you. That’s what they did, and we’ve just played different ever since. We want another shot at them, but we have to continue improving one game at a time.”
Coal Grove: 13-6-9-7 — 35
Notre Dame: 15-20-15-10 — 60
Coal Grove: 11-50 FG, 9-17 FT, 4-17 3pt., 27 rebounds (Dillow, Murphy 6), 7 turnovers, 3 assists. Scoring: Murphy 11, Dillow 9, Hicks 6, Griffith 6, Holmes 2, Harmon 1.
Notre Dame: 26-41 FG, 8-10 FT, 1-5 3pt., 24 rebounds (Claire Dettwiller 13), 7 turnovers, 13 assists (Bradford 5). Scoring: Hassel 25, Claire Dettwiller 17, Annie Dettwiller 9, Cassidy 7, Bradford 2.