Big picture: Times No. 4 Bishop Noll remained unbeaten on the season after grinning out a 55-49 win over Homewood-Flossmoor on Saturday afternoon.
Senior guard Kristian Steele paced the Warriors with 16, while sophomores Courtney Blakely and Laila Rogers chipped in 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Homewood-Flossmoor (4-3) bolted to a hot start after hitting four of its first five shots, forcing Noll to call an early timeout.
Bishop Noll had a tough time scoring in the paint due to the presence of Vikings sophomore center Grace Hall, who blocked shots against the Warriors on three straight possessions.
Midway through the first quarter, the timeout forced Homewood-Flossmoor out of its offensive rhythm, as Noll then stopped the Vikings on their next three possessions.
"We made an adjustment to work inside-out and move the ball around to use the clock, Bishop Noll coach Vinita Golston said. "As a whole, the team is conscious of their defense and if they're overplaying because being over-aggressive on defense makes you work harder."
After hanging tough in the first quarter tied at 13, the Warriors went on a 13-4 run in the second quarter, with Blakely scoring nine points in the period.
Steele scored six of her points in the third quarter.
With a little less than a minute left in the third quarter, H-F climbed to within two, but 3-pointers by Blakely and junior guard Emily Sutton gave Noll some cushion going into the fourth.
The Vikings took the lead with 1:20 left thanks to a driving layup from Hall, but the next Noll possession sealed H-F's fate.
Blakely drew a foul and made one one of her two free throws to tie the game.
On the second free throw, Rogers was able to grab the offensive rebound and draw the foul against Hall, who had four at that point.
However, after showing some frustration with the call, Hall was teed up, thus having fouled out, which gave Noll four free throws and the ball with 1:08 left.
Rogers made one of her foul shots and Blakely converted on both of her attempts.
"I knew before the free throw went up that it was mine due to my positioning," said Rogers, who also had eight boards. "I knew (Hall) had three fouls and it was easier for us to score if she wasn't on the floor."
Steele sealed the game with a layup.
Golston praised Rogers' prowess in that moment and the high basketball IQ she showed during the game.
"Laila pointed out that (Hall) had three fouls at halftime and with her out of the game, it opened up the floor for us a little bit."
Turning point: After trailing 49-48 with 1:20 left, Rogers grabbed an offensive board after Blakely missed the back end of two free throws. H-F's Grace Hall was called for the foul and a technical, which gave Noll four foul shots and the ball. The Warriors sank three of them.
Bishop Noll player of the game: Kristian Steele — The senior swingman recorded team-highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Quote: "After the game we talked about game recognition," Bishop Noll coach Vinita Holston said. "We had one 30-second timeout at the end of the game, so they had to trust themselves in that situation."
Up next: Bishop Noll (5-0) at Griffith, 7 p.m. Saturday