There's nothing like ending the year on a high note, which for the Notre Dame boys' basketball team means playing its most complete game of the still-young season in its final outing of 2012.
The Irish (10-5) withstood a fourth-period rally from Ooltewah to win 96-78 Saturday and claim third place in the Best of Preps tournament at Chattanooga State. Stedmon Ford led five Notre Dame players in double figures with 26 points, followed by Kealey Green with 22, Kareem Orr with 20, Tyler Byrd with 13 and Kywaun Davenport with 12.
"We haven't been confident until today," Irish first-year coach J.P. Nerbun said. "We under-performed against Baylor last night and Red Bank before that. Ooltewah is a great team and well coached, and they never gave up. We never felt comfortable, especially with four guys with four fouls, but it's a nice win."
Ooltewah (10-4) trailed by 16 points in the third period but cut the Notre Dame lead to five on Jaqueze Robinson's 3-pointer with four minutes to play, but the cat-quick Irish scored the next eight points, including three consecutive fastbreak layups in a little over a minute, to seal the win.
"It's a great win for us, but we've got a lot of work to do in January," Nerbun said. "We're starting to get guys believing in this system, which is the biggest thing. A lot of them played zone before, so it takes time to get accustomed to the pressure defense."
Robinson paced the Owls with 25 points, while Andrew Ware added 13 points and 16 rebounds.
• Boyd-Buchanan 66, Chattanooga Patriots 40: In the fifth-place game, the Bucs overcame a 23-14 deficit after one period behind the hot shooting of Justus McMillan, who led all scorers with 22 points and keyed a 16-2 run to start the second half. Hall Allen added 13 points and nine rebounds, with Austin Walker chipping in 12 points for the 9-5 winners. Aaron Ambrosetti topped the Patriots (7-9) with 15.
• North Jackson 54, Red Bank 52: In the seventh-place game, Seth Rowe led three Chiefs (3-11) in double figures with 17 points. Andrew Kirk added 16 and Keyshawn Lawrence had 13 for the winners, while Fred Matthews and Malik Davis topped the Lions (3-11) with 13 each.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...