The Notre Dame High School girls basketball team struggled to make shots in warmups prior to Tuesday's SEI Superconference South Division showdown against West Burlington at Father Minett Gymnasium.
It seemed the Nikes couldn't throw a beach ball into the ocean standing at the water's edge.
Once the game started, the Nikes couldn't seem to miss.
Class 1A's seventh-ranked Notre Dame built an early 12-point lead and coasted to a 61-38 victory over the Falcons to improve to 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the South Division.
The Nikes may have been off the mark in warmups, but when it mattered most they were right on target.
“Once one person gets on," said junior guard Maddy Mosena, who scored five points for the Nikes. "it kind of keeps going on and on and on. We just kind of encourage each other. If one is hot, we all get hot. That’s kind of how are team works.”
“Our warmups were not the best today, but when we step on that court we know that we have to get it together and do our best," said Notre Dame senior Megan Harrell, who scored a game-high 21 points. "If we don’t, we know what will happen. West Burlington is a good team. We knew we had to bring it.”
“It makes my job easy. It shows how hard the girls work. It’s fun to watch. I love watching it," Notre Dame interim head coach Corey Stephens said. “They shoot lots of shots every day. They don’t get down on themselves. They keep shooting the ball. Just keep shooting. They’ll start falling.”
Chalk one up for Papa Duck
Harrell already has one of the best all-around games in the state. Now she has added a deft passing touch to her arsenal, hitting teammates with spot-on passes for wide-open looks. That adds an entirely new dimension to the Nikes' already potent offense.
“My grandpa, Brent Young. I call him Papa Duck. He’s taught me a lot about basketball," Harrell said. "My passing is a big thing for him and I agree. Assists are just as important as points. Getting your team involved in the game. He always said that Michael Jordan made everybody on the court great players. I believe that is true. I need to make everyone else a great player by giving them assists.”
“She is a stud. This year she stepped her game up by getting more passes, getting more assists," Stephens said. "She’s taking care of the ball a lot better. She is the heartbeat of our team right now. When she goes, everybody else goes right along with her.”
Inside, and outside
When the Nikes are hitting from the perimeter, they can be nearly unstoppable. With Harrell, Gabby Deery and Abby Korschgen in the post, that opens up the perimeter. And then the 3-pointers start falling, that opens space for the post players to work their magic.
The Nikes hit on 8-of-16 3-pointer against the Falcons, including three each by Harrell and Taryn Stephens.
In turn, Harrell and Deery combined to score 32 points.
“We started hitting our shots early, then we kind of died down a little bit. But then we came back," Mosena said. "It was a really aggressive game. I think we ended the game well, though. We ended better than we started.”
“Gabby and I work great together," Harrell said. "She’s a great post down there. She’s strong. I now if I get it to her she will either take it in or pass it back out for a good shot for me. Her and I are on the same page. We knew what we’re doing together.”
“We just weren’t getting in tight because you have to worry about Deery," West Burlington head coach John Vandenberg said. "She’s a good athlete, too. It’s a two-edged sword and you have to try to take one of them away.”
Kelley blossoming into basketball star
West Burlington sophomore Logan Kelley, an all-state catcher on the WB-ND softball team, is quickly developing into a multi-dimensional player on the basketball court.
Kelley is a tenacious defender and her quickness allows her to penetrate the lane for layups. She led the Falcons with 12 points.
“She’s turned into a great basketball player," Vandenberg said. "She’s a great athlete all the way around. She can run that fast break for us. She just has to get a little more comfortable with it. She’s hard to defend in the open court.”
On the horizon
Notre Dame (5-0, 2-0) travels to play Danville on Friday.
West Burlington (3-1, 2-1) plays host to Holy Trinity on Friday.
The rematch between the Nikes and Falcons is scheduled for Jan. 18 at West Burlington.
By the numbers
WEST BURLINGTON (38)
Kenna Marlow 3-13 5-7 11, Riley Richards 1-1 1-2 3, Logan Kelley 5-15 2-7 12, Abbey Bence 0-14 3-5 3, Stacey Dzawo 2-2 0-0 4, Isabella Blaufuss 0-1 0-0 0, Taryn Havener 1-1 0-0 2, Lauren Summers 1-2 0-0 3, Kyra Garr 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-49 11-31 38.
NOTRE DAME (61)
Reagan Engberg 2-6 1-2 6, Taryn Stephens 3-3 0-0 9, Megan Harrell 9-15 0-0 21, Gabby Deery 5-10 1-4 11, Lauren Krieger 3-5 1-2 7, Maddy Mosena 2-6 0-0 5, Abby Korschgeb 0-3 0-0 0, Anna Engberg 1-2 0-0 2, Ava Parkins 0-0 0-0 0, Amelia Morgan 0-1 0-0 0, Madalynn Knapp 0-0 0-0 0, Nadiya Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Lexi Korschgeb 0-1 0-0 0, Addison Reid 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-52 3-8 61.
Score by quarters
West Burlington. 13. 9. 10 6. — 38
Notre Dame. 23. 15. 16. 7. — 61
Fouls: West Burlington 11, Notre Dame 19. Fouled out: None. Technicals: West Burlington bench. 3-point goals: West Burlington 1-12 (Summers 1-2, Blaufuss 0-1, Bence 0-3, Marlow 0-6), Notre Dame 8-16 (Stephens 3-3, Harrell 3-5, Moesna 1-2, R.Engberg 1-3, A.Engberg 0-1, Morgan 0-1, L.Korschgen 0-1).
Records: West Burlington 3-1 overall (2-1 SEI Superconference South Division), Notre Dame 5-0 (2-0).
This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Notre Dame girls basketball builds big lead, holds off West Burlington