Notre Dame girls' basketball coach Jason Hill was so pleased with the way his players performed in the third quarter of Friday's Division II-A East District 2-A game at Chattanooga Christian, he told them between periods that if they play defense like that again in the fourth, they wouldn't have to score another point.
"Maybe that's what they only heard," Hill said about the end of his message.
The Lady Irish struggled scoring in the fourth, especially given the number of opportunities they had, but held on and won 50-41.
Notre Dame (16-7, 4-0) maintains the top spot in the district, now having handed CCS (12-5, 2-2) both of its district losses.
"What we're trying to do is put ourselves in the best postseason position," Hill said. "We want to get the best seeding, so we can have the best chance to make the deepest run. Getting the higher seed is what this is all about right now."
Silverdale Baptist Academy is lurking with a 3-1 league record. The loss was against the Lady Chargers, who are scheduled to host the Lady Seahawks on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
"This one is behind us," CCS coach Laura Cottrell said. "We've got to get focused on what's next. We've got to do our best to win that one to have a chance at the two seed."
Notre Dame scored the game's first 10 points Friday, but the Lady Chargers were back within 20-18 when Holly Hendry made a layup with 3:45 to go in the second quarter. The half ended with the Lady Irish leading by four.
Then Notre Dame outscored CCS 14-4 in the third quarter.
"Notre Dame did not let up," Cottrell said of coming out of the halftime break. "I think we thought we were right in the game."
Said Hill: "We picked up the defensive intensity. We have struggled sometimes offensively. We want to win the game on the defensive end every night."
Post player Mackenzie Johnson scored in close to push Notre Dame's lead to 16 at the outset of the fourth. But by the time Madison Blevins made her third 3-point shot of the night, with 33 seconds to play, CCS had battled back within 47-41.
"Give credit to CCS," Hill said. "They came at us pretty hard. They played about as well as they could the last five or six minutes. They put the game in our hands on the free-throw line, and we couldn't put it away. We finally got some stops and were able to make a few free throws at the end."
Before Averie Sheppard made two free throws with 11.9 seconds remaining for the final margin, the Lady Irish had been 3-of-13 from the line from the 2:31 mark on.
"It's just hard when you dig that deep of a hole and you have to expend that much energy trying to come back," Cottrell said of the late rally. "They gave us opportunities. But against good teams, you can't make the mistakes we did."
Johnson was a force inside with 20 points, and point guard Kate Ford added 12 in the victory.
Kate Dirkse's 12 points topped CCS, which got eight apiece from Hendry and Addie Henry.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.