Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Notre Dame girls basketball team brings home program’s eighth state plaque

The Notre Dame girls basketball team poses with the Class 5 fourth-place plaque after falling to West Plains 42-38 in the third-place game on Saturday at Great Southern Bank Arena in Springfield. Photos by Nick McNeal

After advancing to the Class 4 Final Four as a freshman with her older sister but not getting to play in it due to the coronavirus pandemic, Notre Dame 6-foot-1 senior guard Tori Rubel finally got to play at the Show-Me Showdown on the campus of Missouri State last weekend.

The Bulldogs have moved up to Class 5 since then due to MSHSAA’s championship success factor for private schools, but that didn’t stop Rubel and Notre Dame from reaching state her final year.

On top of making it back, Tori also got to experience playing in the final four with her younger sisters freshman 5-9 point guard Brie Rubel and 6-0 forward Kate Rubel, as well as her longtime friend and fellow 5-5 senior guard Anna Garner.

“It’s a really great experience — ever since freshman year when we made it and didn’t get to be here, I feel like I’ve been working towards it and our team has been working towards it,” Tori Rubel said. “The past five months — the hard work and extra hours after practice — led us to being here.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to share this weekend with literally anyone else. Anna and I have been playing together since first or second grade, so it’s only right we finish our season together. Being out on the court with her is so natural, and she’s like my other sister. I’m really sad it’s over, and I’m going to miss playing with her a lot.”

These Bulldogs nearly made history, too, as they came up four points shy of making the Class 5 State Championship Game, which would’ve been Notre Dame’s first appearance in the state title game since 2010.

In the state semifinals, Notre Dame (23-7) fell to then one-loss Carl Junction (30-2) at 37-33 in a contest where Brie Rubel almost made it a one-point game with less than 20 seconds left. Tori Rubel made it a four-point game after hitting a shot inside the paint with 56 seconds left, which was followed by three possessions that ended in turnovers.

Notre Dame freshman 6-2 post Nevaeh Lucious came up with a steal for the third turnover and passed the ball to Kate Rubel, who drove the ball inside and kicked it out to a wide-open Brie Rubel.

Brie swished the 3-pointer for what would have made the score 37-36 with 16 seconds left, but Bulldogs head coach Kirk Boeller called a timeout to draw up a play right before Rubel caught the ball and made the shot.

Following the timeout, Brie Rubel missed her next attempt from beyond the arc, which ended up being Notre Dame’s final shot attempt in the game. Brie finished with nine points off two made 3-pointers, while Lucious scored a team-high 12 points as Garner paced them with eight and hit two treys.

While Tori Rubel and Lucious combined for 14 rebounds with seven apiece, Carl Junction had not one but two players finish with double-doubles. Bulldogs 6-3 junior forward Kylie Scott recorded a game-high 14 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots, while 5-9 sophomore forward Deze Williams paced with 11 points and 10 boards.

One thing to note defensively for Notre Dame was that it only allowed Carl Junction’s leading scorer 5-8 senior guard Destiny Buerge, who averaged 24.6 points per game heading into state, to score seven in the semifinals.

Carl Junction finished as the Class 5 runner-ups after falling to Lutheran St. Charles (27-5) by only five points at 44-39 in what was a tied game with less than a minute remaining. Tennessee Tech signee and Cougars 6-2 senior forward Megan Aulbert scored a team-high 11 points with 14 rebounds.

Lutheran St. Charles actually fell to John Burroughs 61-59 last month, which is the same team Notre Dame beat 46-35 in the quarterfinals to reach state.

The loss to Carl Junction put Notre Dame in the third-place game against last year’s Class 5 State Champions West Plains (24-8). The Bulldogs trailed the Zizzers by 12 after the first quarter but only by five at 19-14 heading into the locker room.

This was thanks to a 9-0 run in the second quarter, which included one of Tori Rubel’s two 3-pointers in the contest that she knocked down after coming up with an offensive rebound.

Notre Dame followed that up with a 10-0 run in the third quarter to take a 29-26 lead over West Plains. Brie Rubel started the run with a trey of her own, as Tori Rubel scored the last five points off a mid-range jumper and lastly the final 3-pointer of her illustrious high school career.

The Zizzers went on a 7-0 run to follow, though, and never trailed again despite Kate Rubel making it a one-point game at 32-31 off a successful and-1 opportunity.

West Plains scored six unanswered points after that and took an eventual 40-33 lead until Brie Rubel hit the last 3 of her high school career to make it 40-36 with 11 seconds to go. The Zizzers were in the bonus for free throws, though, and made back-to-back attempts to make it a six-point game.

Tori Rubel finished the game leading most statistical categories with 12 points (two 3s), seven rebounds, five steals and three assists. Tori also blocked one shot as her sisters Brie and Kate paced with eight and seven, respectively, for the sister trio to finish with a combined 27 points in their final high school game together.

“If you watched us, we did not lack any effort — we left it all out on the court,” Tori Rubel said. “We were down 17-5 but came back and took the lead at one point. If just a couple more shots would’ve fallen for us, it could’ve been a different outcome. I think we have no regrets with how we played.”

Even though Notre Dame didn’t come away with a state championship, it was still quite the season for the Bulldogs. Along with a trip to state, Notre Dame won a fifth-straight district championship, fourth consecutive SEMO Conference Tournament title and fourth FSCB Holiday Classic title in a row.

The Bulldogs also took home the conference regular-season championship, making for back-to-back sweeps of the SEMO Conference.

Returning starters for the Bulldogs next season will be Brie Rubel, Kate Rubel and Nevaeh Lucious. All three will continue playing basketball together this AAU season for Napheesa Collier Elite. Nine of the 10 players who will be on Phee Elite this AAU season played in their respective final fours.

“This experience at state is definitely going to be a huge motivation for us and the team next year,” Brie Rubel said. “I think it will push all of us even harder knowing how close we were this year to winning state and just feed our competitiveness to want that so much next year.”

As for Tori Rubel, she will now play college basketball with her older sister Lexi Rubel at UT Martin after sharing a season to remember with her sisters Brie and Kate, and their father Matt Rubel as an assistant.

“It’s Notre Dame basketball — it’s family,” Tori Rubel said. “This season was really cool, and I really enjoyed having them there. … My dad has also been coaching all of the starting five and Skylar [Craft], Maddie [Erbst] and Mia [Panton] since we were in second grade.

“We had a really great atmosphere this season and, of course, we couldn’t have done it without Coach [Kirk] Boeller, Coach [Jennifer] Coad and Coach [Alex] Graves — just everyone.”

Notre Dame 6-foot-1 senior guard Tori Rubel recorded a team-high 12 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three assists in a 42-38 loss to West Plains in the Class 5 Third Place Game Saturday at Great Southern Bank Arena.

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.

You May Also Like

City News

A 26-year-old Mississippi man was disarmed, arrested and charged with murder following an early morning shooting spree on Wednesday, Dec. 22, at the Town...

City News

A 58-year-old Jackson man drowned after going into Jackson City Park’s Rotary Lake during the July 4th firework show Sunday night. The man’s body...

City News

Americans frustrated by the policies of the current administration in Washington have let their feelings be known in large sporting venues across the country...


Former Jackson High School athletes will soon be honored in a new hall of fame program approved by the Jackson R-2 School Board during...