In a favorable matchup for the Notre Dame girls basketball team (14-3) versus SEMO Conference opponent New Madrid County Central (0-8) Thursday night, the Bulldogs made history on multiple accounts.
Leading Notre Dame to a 60-point, 85-25 victory over the Eagles was 6-foot-1 senior guard Tori Rubel, who set a new career-high in scoring by dropping 31 points.
Along with that and shooting 59% from the field, the UT Martin signee also notched 12 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season while having five steals and four assists.
“I definitely couldn’t have done it without my teammates making awesome passes, encouraging me and locking up on defense,” Tori said. “Tonight my goal was to get more to the rim. I was able to get some open looks, some steals and layups, and my teammates, especially Kate [Rubel], had some really nice passes to me in the paint.”
While Tori far and away led her team in scoring, her younger sister 6-0 freshman guard Kate Rubel led the Bulldogs in assists by dishing out a career-high total of seven. Kate also scored nine points with five rebounds and four steals in the win, as Notre Dame 5-7 senior guard Anna Garner had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals of her own.
Other Bulldogs to record multiple assists were 5-7 sophomore guard Skylar Craft and Tori’s other sister 5-9 freshman point guard Brie Rubel with four and three assists, respectively. Craft also added seven points while Brie produced four as 6-2 freshman post Nevaeh Lucious scored eight and had four blocked shots.
Freshmen Kate Rubel, Lucious and Brie Rubel all average more than seven points per game for the Bulldogs with 8.5, 8.3 and 7.7 per game, respectively.
Tori, who scored six of her 31 points from 3-point range, is arguably the most efficient scorer from all three levels (short, mid and long range) in Southeast Missouri. This was Rubel’s 10th double-digit scoring game of the season and is currently averaging a team-high 11.9 points per game for Notre Dame.
“It was our highest scoring game of the season,” Tori said. “We kept the tempo up, and our ball movement was really good, helping us stay in the flow of things. I really love this team — getting to play with Anna for so long, and this year, getting to play with Kate, Brie and Nevaeh is super special.”
Tori’s previous career-high scoring total was 22 points, which she recorded during her sophomore year against New Madrid in the 2020 SEMO Conference Tournament Semifinals. Last season, Rubel’s older sister and current UT Martin 6-0 freshman guard Lexi Rubel put up 30 points against the Eagles.
Lexi had another 30-point game her senior year as she scored a career-high 32 points versus Whitfield later that season. Rubel, who was a two-time all-state selection for the Bulldogs, was Notre Dame’s leader in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals last winter.
Tori is certainly taking after her sister by leading the Bulldogs in all of the same categories with averages of 11.9 points, eight rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.8 steals per contest.
This has helped lead Notre Dame to record its best record through the first 17 games of the season (82.3 winning percentage) since Rubel’s freshman year when the Bulldogs advanced to the Class 4 Final Four.
“Being my senior year, I feel like I really needed to step up my game especially without Lexi being there,” Tori said. “Lexi was our No. 1 rebounder while she was at ND, and she left some big shoes to fill, so I’m doing my best to fill her shoes. It’s really special and a little crazy [to score 30 points like she did]. I miss playing with her a lot, but I’m ready to get back out there with her next year!”
The other history that was made is that Notre Dame’s 85 points are the most the Bulldogs have scored since the 2016-17 season and the highest total in Kirk Boeller’s five years as head coach.
This was also the 100th win of Boeller’s stint at Notre Dame, becoming the third Bulldogs head coach to record triple-digit victories (Jerry Grim 441, Renee Peters 181).
Tori and Lexi Rubel, aka The Rubel Duo, are currently the only two players to have scored 30 or more points in a single game under Coach Boeller.
“Tonight felt really good,” Rubel said. “During each game, I’m just focused on working hard and our team winning. My teammates really found me with some great passes and it was Coach Boeller’s 100th win, so that made it even more special.”
With the win, Notre Dame moves to 4-0 in SEMO Conference regular-season play as the team is hoping to repeat as conference regular-season champions. The four remaining conference games the Bulldogs have left to play are against Saxony Lutheran (10-8, 2-1) Thursday, Dexter (12-7, 2-1) Feb. 6, Jackson (12-4, 2-0) Feb. 9 and Cape Central (10-9, 1-2 SEMO) on Feb. 23.
Through Notre Dame’s four conference regular-season games, Tori has averaged 16.3 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. The Bulldogs are currently beating SEMO Conference teams by an average of nearly 33 points per game as they’ve yet to allow any conference opponent score more than 30 points so far.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time and trying to come out each game and play our best,” Rubel said.
The last time Notre Dame lost a conference game during the regular season was back two seasons ago to New Madrid County Central by five points, which was a game Rubel actually missed due to medical concerns. Tori scored her previous career-high scoring total against the Eagles in a 12-point win earlier that season.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs will be the first girls basketball team in Southeast Missouri to play in the Charleston Sixth Man Shootout, where they will face Class 3 Thayer (12-6).
“It will be a lot of fun,” Coach Boeller said. “It’s something new and different, and we and our boys team will play back-to-back, so that’ll just be a unique experience for both programs.”
In Coach Boeller’s head coaching career, Notre Dame’s girls program has proven to be one of the most prominent athletic programs throughout Southeast Missouri with a combined record of 100-28 (78.1 winning percentage).
Along with their 100 wins through four and a half seasons, the Bulldogs have made one final four and four-straight quarterfinal appearances, while they’ve now won four-straight conference tournament and First State Community Bank Holiday Classic championships.