Mater Dei coach David Kohnen wasn't necessarily worried when the Knights lost five of their last six regular-season games.
A little concerned? Maybe. But not worried.
"We were not playing bad basketball. We just weren't finishing very well,'' Kohnen said. "The teams we were playing were some of the best in the state. I really think our schedule at the end of the year helped us prepare for the postseason.''
Five postseason wins later, the Knights are in a Class 3A Super-Sectional for the third time in the last five years. Mater Dei lost to Springfield both times, 66-62 in 2009 and 68-57 in 2011.
A little more then 48 hours removed from a 46-35 win over Massac County in the title game of the Waterloo Sectional, the Knights (24-6) will face their toughest foe to date when they play undefeated (Quincy) Notre Dame (27-0) on Monday in the Class 3A Springfield Super-Sectional.
The game will be held at the University of Illinois-Springfield beginning at 7:30 p.m. The winner advances to the Class 3A state tournament, which begins Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal.
Winner of the Class 2A state tournament the past two years, Notre Dame (27-0) is competing as a Class 3A school for the first time.
The Lady Raiders advanced with a 62-37 trouncing of Champaign Centennial on Saturday at the Mount Zion Sectional.
"I saw them (Notre Dame) play at Carrollton earlier in the year and there are no glaring weaknesses,'' Kohnen said. "They are big, talented, athletic and they flat out get after you on the defensive end of the court, either with the half-court or full-court trap.
"We've played teams like that. Belleville West, Chatham-Glenwood and really it's like anything else. We've got to able to take care of the basketball against that pressure.
"We've got to make good decisions with the basketball.''
Senior Emily Koelling (16.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game) leads the way for Mater Dei, and along with senior Jamie Voss (7.8 ppg.) combine to give the Knights a pair of strong inside 6-foot bookends.
Senior guard Anna Lampe (7.2) also has been solid and will be a key in Mater Dei's attempt to solve Notre Dame's pressure.
"Half-court or full-court, it doesn't matter. They (Notre Dame) are effective in both,'' Kohnen said. "Their guards are good enough to where they can square up and keep you contained until another player comes over to trap."
The Lady Raiders have one of the top players in the state in senior Jordan Frericks.
A 6-foot guard headed to Missouri, Frericks is a two-time first-team all-state selection who averages 18.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 4.3 steals and two blocked shots per game.
"She has the total package. From the films I've watched, she has no weaknesses in her game,'' Kohnen said of Frericks. "She's also a great passer. She sees the floor so well.''
A Class 2A second-team all-state selection a year ago, 5-10 guard Kassidy Gengenbacher also averages 18 points and shoots 47 percent from beyond the 3-point line for Notre Dame. Gengenbacher is headed to Lindenwood University-St. Charles.