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Notre Dame girls basketball wins Nixa Invitational consolation championship

The Notre Dame girls basketball team poses with the Nixa Invitational Tournament Consolation Championship plaque after beating Helias Catholic 62-58 on Saturday at Nixa. Submitted photo

For the first time since joining the Nixa Invitational Tournament in the 2021-22 season, the Notre Dame girls basketball team brought home some hardware. The Bulldogs (9-6) did so by winning the consolation championship with a 62-58 victory over Helias Catholic (10-6) Saturday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s lone loss of this year’s NIT was to the eventual tournament champions Republic (10-4) by a score of 58-45 in the first round. The Tigers beat Marshfield (12-3) 60-55 in the title game after defeating tournament-host Nixa (11-5) 55-53 in the semifinals.

Leading the way for the Bulldogs in the consolation title game was sophomore guard Brie Rubel, who scored a game-high 21 points with seven assists and four steals. This is the second time Rubel has registered a 20-point game this season as she scored a career-high 23 versus Chaffee (7-6) last month.

Combining for 30 points in the four-point win over Helias were fellow sophomores post Nevaeh Lucious and forward Kate Rubel with 16 and 14, respectively. Both players also finished with five rebounds apiece, while Kate also had five assists and Lucious five blocked shots as Rubel blocked three as well.

The only other Notre Dame players to score in the consolation championship game were the Bulldogs other two starters as junior forward Eliza Barnette finished with eight points and seven rebounds, while junior guard Skylar Craft hit one 3-pointer and dished out three assists.

To advance to the fifth-place game, Notre Dame handled Francis Howell Central (7-5) by nearly 20 points at 51-33 in the consolation semifinals on Friday. It was a spreadout scoring affair for the Bulldogs as Lucious led the way with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Kate Rubel and Barnette both finished with nine.

Along with her nine points, Rubel stuffed the stat sheet by registering five assists, four rebounds and three steals. The other half of the Rubel twins Brie scored seven points versus the Spartans, along with her team-high six assists and five steals.

In the loss to Republic, Craft was Notre Dame’s leading scorer with a team-high 11 points as she knocked down three 3-pointers. No other Bulldog managed to reach double figures as Lucious (nine points) and the Rubels (eight apiece) combined for 25.

Barnette came up with five points as junior guard Maddy Erbst added three off the bench, while Delta transfer junior forward Oliva Wagoner only scored a total of three points in the NIT. However, she didn’t play in the consolation championship.

Notre Dame’s Class 5 Final Four team last winter failed to win the consolation title as they lost to Republic for fifth place. The year before that, the Bulldogs beat Republic in the opening round but fell to West Plains and then Webster Groves to take fourth place.

Having won yet another SEMO Conference Tournament Championship and placing higher in this year’s NIT already this season, Notre Dame is on pace for another promising postseason finish.

Despite being only three games over .500, the Bulldogs have had to face not one but two state champions from last season this winter in nationally-ranked Class 6 Incarnate Word Academy (12-0) and Class 5 Lutheran St. Charles (14-2).

Now being in Class 4, Notre Dame’s originally-scheduled road matchup with District 1 opponent undefeated Doniphan (13-0) for Jan. 15 — cancelled due to weather — has been moved to next Wednesday.

The Bulldogs are also returning to SEMO Conference action in hopes of winning the conference regular season championship for the third-straight season. Notre Dame is already 2-0 in conference play and will face Kennett (12-3, 3-0 SEMO), New Madrid County Central (0-9, 0-3) and Cape Central (7-7, 1-2) before it squares off with Doniphan.

After that, the Bulldogs are set to their conference regular-season slate with Saxony Lutheran (11-5, 3-0) on Feb. 1, Dexter (9-8, 1-2) Feb. 5 and lastly Jackson (8-4, 1-1) Feb. 8.

Notre Dame will also compete in the Charleston Sixth Man Shootout Feb. 3 and will finish the regular season against Farmington (10-4) Feb. 13, Cor Jesu (10-5) Feb. 16 and Westminster Christian (2-14) Feb. 20.

The last time the Bulldogs were in Class 4 was the 2019-20 season when they punched their ticket to the state final four for the first time in a decade. Notre Dame, or any team, was unable to play in the final four that year, though, because of the coronavirus pandemic forcing MSHSAA to cancel the remainder of the state tournament.

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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