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High School Girls Basketball: Down two starters, Notre Dame defeats Jackson sixth-straight time

Photo by Jay Forness

For the second season in a row, the Notre Dame girls basketball team swept crosstown rival Jackson in three games as the Bulldogs bested the Indians 46-44 in SEMO Conference regular-season action Thursday night at the Dawg Pound.

Notre Dame’s first two wins over Jackson were in tournament championship games as the Bulldogs won the SEMO Conference Tournament, 46-33, Dec. 4 and then the First State Community Bank Holiday Classic, 40-32, Dec. 22.

Heading into last week’s contest, the Bulldogs (9-3, 2-0 SEMO) were without starters senior Delaney Dohogne and sophomore Tori Rubel as well as junior Sarah Brennan, who sees significant minutes off the bench. With the odds against them, Notre Dame increased its winning streak over the Indians to six games as three Bulldogs combined for 35 points.

These players for Notre Dame were juniors Lexi Rubel (16 points), Kristin Edmonds (10) and Sydney Seabaugh (nine) as Rubel was able to lead her team in scoring despite always being double or sometimes even triple teamed by Jackson. With so many Indians defending her at once, Rubel was able to draw fouls frequently and had a total of 16 attempts from the free-throw line — making 10 of them.

“When a game is on the line, great players step up,” Notre Dame head coach Kirk Boeller said. “Lexi is a great player, and she took over that whole last half of the game. She was determined that she was going to do everything she could to keep us on top. Coaching somebody like that is such a blessing because you know you can put her out there and say, ‘Lexi, this is yours. Go get it,’ and she’ll do it nine times out of 10.”

Rubel finished 6-for-9 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter alone as Edmonds and Seabaugh combined for five points in the final eight minutes. Seabaugh hit one of the Bulldogs four overall 3-pointers in the duration.

Along with leading Notre Dame in scoring, Rubel led her team in rebounds for the fourth-straight game with 12 boards as she has now recorded three double-doubles in a row. Rubel’s first double-double was against Cor Jesu (29 points, 13 rebounds) on Jan. 15 with the second being versus Ste. Genevieve (12 points, 16 rebounds) Jan. 18.

One of the reasons why Rubel has been leading the Bulldogs in boards besides her ability to come down with the basketball is because of the current absence of her younger sister, Tori, in the post. Lexi has been filling her sister’s role for the last three games, who is currently out with a medical concern and hopes to be cleared to return to action sometime soon.

“When we pull Lexi out on the perimeter, we lose her presence inside,” Boeller said. “When we put her inside, we lose her presence out on the perimeter knocking down shots. She can go in and out and be effective anywhere. Tonight, we needed her to go in there and bang around a little bit. When she’s asked to do something, she’s phenomenal.”

The other two Notre Dame players who missed the Jackson game — Brennan and Dohogne — are currently dealing with injuries. Both players are expected to return this season as Dohogne is resting from a nagging hip injury she suffered against Park Hills Central Jan. 7.

Also stepping up in the post along with Rubel for Notre Dame has been Seabaugh, who was tasked with guarding Jackson senior Madison Lambert for a majority of the game. Lambert only scored four points through the first three quarters until she produced six in the final eight minutes.

“[Seabaugh] has been getting more minutes, more minutes and more minutes,” Coach Boeller said. “Then she said, ‘Coach, I think I want some more minutes.’ She earned them and that starting spot tonight, and she filled in well. That was the best high school basketball game she’s had. She only scored nine points, but she was phenomenal on defense and didn’t turn the ball over.”

As for Edmonds, she’s been one of the Bulldogs top scorers this winter. Edmonds had a season-high 16 against Cor Jesu, and she led Notre Dame in scoring with 14 points versus Ste. Genevieve.

Edmonds is also one of the Bulldogs top defenders along with fellow junior Leah Jansen, who scored five points and hit one 3-pointer against the Indians.

“Kristin and Leah are annoying on defense,” Coach Boeller said. “Having one person guard like that is frustrating [for opposing teams], but having two that can come out and just cause chaos. It’s not rough, it’s not dirty — it’s hard nose and they get after it. Kristin has been such a great addition and has been a blessing for us.”

Another key performance in Notre Dame’s final win of the season over Jackson was by senior Allie Burnett, who began 2020-21 coming off the bench but has now started several games due to injuries. Burnett hit a game-high two 3-pointers for her six points of the contest.

Burnett also produced around the rim as she paced Rubel in rebounds by coming down with seven of her own, which were all on the defensive end.

Defensively, the Bulldogs held the Indians top-two leading scorers — Junior Jordyn “Jo” McClellan (14.4 points per game) and Lambert (11.8 PPG) — to a combined 19 points. McClellan failed to score in the fourth quarter all together as she only produced four points in the second and third to finish with nine.

Leading Jackson in scoring against Notre Dame was senior Olivia Ward, who finished with a game-high 19 points off three triples. Ward failed to score in the first quarter of action before producing 10 in the second alone.

This was the Bulldogs third win in their last six games as they’ve been without starters like the Rubels or Dohogne off and on since the new year began, and Coach Boeller feels that a win like this helps booster his team’s confidence.

“You can’t control [what’s been going on], so we’re not letting stuff like that bother us,” Coach Boeller said. “Injuries and weird things happen — it’s a long season. The teams that come out of it are the ones who handled the adversity. You can’t control adversity — you can just control how you react to it.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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