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ND Lady Titans take district title

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Barb VanSickle-Roush

Scioto County Candor

Ranked #3 in the state in Division IV girls’ basketball?

Division IV district champions?

Sound too good to be true? Sound like a fairy tale?

For the Notre Dame Lady Titans, it’s not a fairy tale, and it’s not too good to be true, it’s just their amazing season.

The 24-0 Lady Titans took on the Peebles Lady Indians last night in the Division IV District Championship coming out with the 53-29 victory over Peebles, District Champs, and a 25-0 record for the season.

There are several things a team needs to make it through a season with such an astounding record. Talent? Of course, there has to be talent. But more importantly the team has to have heart, and according to Coach J.D. McKenzie the main contributor to his team’s success this year is his teams unselfishness.

“We have a lot of girls who came together for the greater goal, the team goal instead of the individual goals,” Said McKenzie. “And any time you get a group that buys into you’re wanting to achieve something special as a team, you’re going to have a more successful time.”

Another contributor to Notre Dame’s success this season and against Peebles is preparation.

“We watched a lot of film,” Coach McKenzie recalled. “We did a lot of breaking it down in practice with what we thought we were going to see defensively and what we thought we were going to see offensively. We worked on how we were going to attack them on our offensive side and that we were going to pressure them and wear them down over four quarters.”

And pressure the Lady Indians, they did. Notre Dame started with two points from Junior Katie Dettwiller of a rebound and never looked back. Jumping out to an early lead the Lady Titans never gave it up.

“O, it’s huge,” said McKenzie about starting the game with the lead and keeping it. “I mean when you get off to a good start like that, it’s easier to sustain and to build on. It was very important that we came out and sat the tone of the game, that was huge.”

While Dettwiller may have scored the first points off a rebound, Senior Lexi Smith made the rebounds look easy.

“She’s been a four-year starter for us,” Says McKenzie about the Senior.

“She has a 1000 pts and 1000 rebounds which shows you how consistent she’s been over the four years. She stepped up again tonight

“She has been a huge part of our success for four years,” McKenzie continued. And this year she’s been a great leader for her senior year roll, she got hurt a little bit there in the middle of the season, but she rebounded from it strong and had a positive attitude the whole way through it. We’ve had to lean on her at times and she’s stepped up big for us at a lot of critical moments.”

But one or two players alone do not make a team. Coach McKenzie explains how he looks to his Seniors to help get things done. The Lady Titans Molly Hoover may not score a lot, but there is more to basketball than just scoring.

“She plays great defense, she distributes the ball well, and she’s been our starting point guard for three years,” McKenzie says about Hoover. “I look at how big she’s been for us at getting the other girls involved and for setting the tone defensively night after night.”

The third Senior, Ali Smith, plays her part by being the spark when her team needs it most.

“(Smith) has a huge roll coming off the bench,” says McKenzie of his third Senior. “She’s a great three-point shooter, and she’s a big reason we’re 25 – 0.”

“You put those three girls together with their four years’ experience,” McKenzie continued, “and the younger girls can look up at them and what they have accomplished. They are going on to win 90 games in a four-year period, and it’s just an awesome system that’s going on right now. They keep building on each other every year, and we’ve got some good girls coming back so it’s exciting and promising at the same time.”

However, standing in Notre Dame’s way of progressing through the play-offs is perhaps one of the toughest teams in the state, Waterford.

Having beaten New Boston last night, they look to make short order of our counties best. But standing in their way is a team which knows what it takes and will be ready for them.

“We will talk about what we’re going to see and what we’re going to try to do, said McKenzie of Waterford.

“Waterford’s a great team and they bring a lot of pressure, and we’ve got to be able to keep our composure and bring the pressure to them the same way they are pressuring us,” continued McKenzie.

“Probably the team that makes the fewest mistakes and the most rebounds will come away with the win. We are excited. If we show up and play we can compete with them.”

#3 Notre Dame will take on #1 Waterford in the Division IV Regional Semi-Finals on Thursday March 8.