Coach J.P. Nerbun liked the way his Notre Dame basketball started its game against Red Bank Monday night, but he had a hard time finding anything good to say about the way they finished.
Red Bank's Fred Matthews scored on a short baseline jumper to start the game, but the Fighting Irish went on a 13-0 run in the next three minutes and that was basically the difference in the game as Notre Dame improved to 13-8 with the 70-60 non-district victory at Notre Dame's Jim Phifer Gymnasium.
Notre Dame's lead was 18-6 when the first quarter ended.
Red Bank actually outscored the hosts by a 54-52 margin in the final three stanzas, but that explosive start was more than the Lions could overcome.
"I'm not one bit happy right now," Nerbun said after a brief post-game talk with his team.
"We played a great first quarter, but Red Bank did a great job of crashing the boards and they played with a lot of fire the rest of the way. We just basically failed to execute on the defensive end for the last three quarters," Nerbun continued.
"I was really happy that Clay Hetzel came in and hit some big shots and I thought that Stedmon Ford had a pretty good game, but we still need to find five players who want to play defense and are willing to battle for a rebound," the Notre Dame coach added.
The Lions did indeed win the battle of the boards by a 35-28 margin after piling up a 26-15 advantage in the first half.
Red Bank finally got its offense going after that slow start and they steadily chipped into Notre Dame's lead.
The difference was 32-25 at the half while the Irish advantage was even less at 47-44 when the final quarter began.
Ford scored on a drive down the lane while Hetzel swished a 3 from the corner and Tyler Byrd added a layup as Notre Dame stretched the lead back to 54-44 with 5:53 to play.
William Davis converted a 3-point play the old fashioned way and Matthews scored on a drive down the lane as the Lions got to within 54-49 with 5:13 showing, but Hetzel responded with another 3 from the corner and the Lions never got any closer.
Red Bank coach Corey Lazenby exited the gym rather quickly when the game ended, but he did offer a few thoughts when contacted by cell phone later.
"Overall I was pleased with our effort as we did a good job rebounding in the first half, but we let down on defense at the end. We got to within five points, but they hit some 3s that really hurt us as they took the wind out of our sails.
"We missed some key layups and we had some critical turnovers that hurt," he added.
Ford was tops for Notre Dame with 18 points and he had three teammates in double figures as well.
Byrd was next with 13 while Kealey Green and Hetzel both finished with 11 points.
Matthews was the leader for Red Bank with 23 points while Davis was next with 16.
Chris Tucker only scored five points for the Lions, but he led the rebounding effort with 10, including eight in the first half. Kalik Hudson and Matthews both snagged seven while Malik Davis claimed six.
Byrd was the leading rebounder for Notre Dame with seven while Green claimed six.
The Notre Dame girls improved to 15-5 with a 49-28 victory over the Lionettes, but it was a 36-10 difference in the second and third quarters that keyed Notre Dame's victory.
Annie Ripper and Keonna Beamon both had 10 points for Notre Dame while Morgan Cantrell finished with seven as 12 of the 14 Lady Irish players scored.
Autumn Babb had 13 points to lead Red Bank while Jasmine Simpson was next with seven.
Notre Dame will be at home again on Tuesday to host East Ridge while Red Bank returns to action on Thursday with a big district game at Tyner.
Red Bank 4 7 3 14 -- 28
Notre Dame 4 16 20 9 -- 49
RED BANK (28) -- Babb 13, Simpson 7, Usher 1, Russell 4, Woodward, Battles 2, Hughes 2.
NOTRE DAME (49) -- Ripper 10, Wittler 4, D. Lundquist, Gadd 1, S. Lundquist 2, Higgins 1, Bouchard 3, Gange 4, Colvin 3, Hoffer 2, Cantrell 7, Masterson, K. Lundquist 2, Beamon 10.
3-POINT GOALS: Red Bank 1 (Babb); Notre Dame 1 (Cantrell).
Red Bank 6 19 19 16 -- 60
Notre Dame 18 14 15 23 -- 70
RED BANK (60) -- Poole, Akridge 3, Matthews 23, McConnell, Tucker 5, W. Davis 16, Suttles 1, M. Davis 6, Hudson 6, Autry.
NOTRE DAME (70) -- Ford 18, Orr 9, Carter 2, Flemister 2, Mink, Hetzel 11, Green 11, Byrd 13, Darras 2, Harris 2.
3-POINT GOALS: Red Bank 4 (Akridge, W. Davis 3); Notre Dame 6 (Ford 3, Hetzel 3).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)