You take a quick look at the overall record of the Notre Dame boys basketball team and you aren't very impressed.
The Fighting Irish have played 24 games so far and come out on the short end 17 times, which again, isn't very impressive.
But those guys in green have won their last three games, including a thrilling 55-52 victory at Signal Mountain Tuesday night in a game where the Fighting Irish never led until the final three minutes.
They're playing pretty good basketball at the right time and their hard work is beginning to pay off.
"We're getting better," suggested Notre Dame coach J.P. Nerbun following the win in the Eagles' gym.
"It was a scrappy game to be sure, but we just try to win each four-minute segment. We finally were able to break away a little bit, but the story of our season is that we haven't been able to make that break," he continued.
"We didn't do a very good job at the free throw line, although we had a couple of big ones at the end. We've played a really tough schedule and it's paying off, but it was a great defensive effort by our entire team. That Sowell kid is so hard to contain, but I'm so proud of these kids. We're getting there," Nerbun concluded.
The game was tied six times in the first half, but Notre Dame never led. Signal's lead was 10-8 at the end of the first quarter while Lannom Sowell's layup at the buzzer gave the Eagles a 27-25 advantage at the half.
Jack Teter hit a 3 and Sowell converted another layup at the end of the third quarter as the hosts remained ahead by a 41-37 margin with eight minutes to play.
A short bank shot by Notre Dame's Kareem Orr with 3:55 knotted the score for the last time at 43 before a fast-break slam by Tyler Byrd with 3:17 left gave the Fighting Irish its first lead at 45-43.
Teter had a layup and a 3 on back-to-back possessions at Signal Mountain regained the advantage at 48-45 with 2:26 to play before Byrd scored on a drive and then hit four straight free throws as Notre Dame went back up 51-48 with 1:08 left.
Sowell scored on a nice inside move and was fouled with 44 seconds left, but the missed free throw left the Eagles still down by a point. Byrd's jumper from the baseline 22 seconds later put the Irish lead back at three before Sowell cut it to one at 53-52 with two charity tosses at the 10.7 second mark.
Byrd was fouled a second later and missed the first shot as Sowell grabbed the rebound. The potential for a last-second game-winning shot was there for the Eagles, but an errant pass was intercepted by A.J. Flemister, who drove down the lane and was fouled with seven-tenths of a second remaining.
Flemister calmly sank both shots for the final three-point margin before Teter's 75-footer sailed wide at the buzzer.
Needless to say, Signal Mountain coach Steve Redman wasn't the happiest guy in the gym when all was said and done.
"We couldn't make a layup and we had a couple of missed free throws, but we basically killed ourselves. We played well at times, but we didn't finish the job and that's the frustrating part for me. Overall, we didn't do a good job, but we need to know that we can't just show up and expect to win.
"Lannom had a great game, but we blew it at home. We had the lead the entire game, but we have to learn how to finish teams off. We just threw it away at the end," Redman added.
Byrd's 21 points was tops for Notre Dame, including 10 big ones in the fourth quarter. Keeley Green and Orr followed with 12 and 10 points, respectively, while Flemister finished with five.
Sowell was a man on a mission for the Eagles as he played one of his best games ever, finishing with 22 points and 15 rebounds. He also had several key blocks.
Teter was the only other Signal Mountain player in double figures as he finished with 11 points, all in the second half.
Signal Mountain won the rebound battle by a 28-25 margin with Sowell's 15 leading the way for the Eagles. Green and Flemister had seven and five rebounds, respectively, for the Irish.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN GIRLS 52, NOTRE DAME 36: Aryn Sanders scored 19 points while teammates Brooke Whitmire and Janie Boals added eight each as the Lady Eagles improved to 16-8 overall and 4-5 in District 7-AA.
The Signal Mountain lead was 17-13 at the half, but the Lady Eagles broke things open with a 17-4 advantage in the third quarter.
Morgan Cantrell was tops for Notre Dame with 11 points. MeMe Siler was next with nine while Stephanie Bouchard finished with six.
TUESDAY'S RESULTS were the exact opposite from the earlier game at Notre Dame where the Lady Irish prevailed by a 45-32 margin and the Signal Mountain boys were easy winners by a 56-41 final.
NOTRE DAME 7 6 4 19 -- 36
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 10 7 17 18 -- 52
NOTRE DAME (36) -- Beaman 2, Cantrell 11, Ripper, Wittler, Bouchard 6, Higgins 5, Masterson, Hoffer 3, Williams, Champlin, Siler 9.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (52) -- Turner 2, Peterson, Sanders 19, Althaus 5, B. Whitmire 8, Bledsoe 7, M. Whitmire 1, Leun, McGowan 2, Boals 8.
3-POINT GOALS: Notre Dame none; Signal Mountain 1 (Sanders).
NOTRE DAME 8 17 12 18 -- 55
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 10 17 14 11 -- 52
NOTRE DAME (55) -- Green 12, Flemister 5, Davis 2, Ballard, Harris 5, Westhoff, Byrd 21, Orr 10.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (52) -- Nolan, Greer, Teter 11, Heinichen 4, Gutierrrez 2, McCaffrey, Palmer 4, Sowell 22, Hodge 6, Elwell 3.
3-POINT GOALS: Notre Dame 2 (Byrd 2); Signal Mountain 4 (Teter 3, Elwell).
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)