The Bulldogs fell to Webb City 60-53 in the Class 4 girls basketball championship game Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
Webb City (30-1) had four players in double figures, led by Hailey Roderique with 18 points.
"They're obviously ranked No. 1 [and] are a very good team," Notre Dame coach Renee Peters said. "Playing catch up late in the game is always difficult, especially against a good free-throw shooting team."
Notre Dame (26-5) contained the Cardinals in the first half, but the Bulldogs ran out of gas after halftime.
"I'm very proud of my girls and their efforts," Peters said. "I think they left everything out on the floor."
Fatigue and turnovers, combined with Webb City's strong play, were the Bulldogs' undoing.
Notre Dame finished with 19 turnovers, while the Cardinals had just eight -- one in the second half.
Notre Dame led 16-15 after the first quarter and 26-25 at halftime.
The Bulldogs limited Webb City to 9 of 23 (39 percent) shooting in the first half.
"Our press was pretty effective in slowing them down," Notre Dame senior Jane Morrill said. "I thought our defense played pretty well. And when we play good defense, our offense comes off that. We ran the ball and got good looks."
The Bulldogs were 12 of 25 (48 percent) from the floor in the first half. They also held a 17-11 advantage on the boards.
"We had a good game," Peters said. "Wish it was better. But in the first half we did what we wanted to do, mainly in the second quarter."
Notre Dame had to hold its breath when Morrill, a 6-foot-1 forward who already signed to play at Arkansas State next season, went down with an ankle injury with 6 minutes, 30 seconds left in the second quarter. Morrill injured the ankle in the Bulldogs' semifinal game Friday against St. Dominic.
"I said, 'Really, again,'" Morrill said. "I couldn't understand why it kept happening. But we taped it up and I had to go back out. It didn't have much effect on me."
Morrill returned with 4:17 left in the half.
The Bulldogs held a 26-21 lead with 1:32 remaining in the first half, but two turnovers at the end of the quarter led to two layups for Webb City.
Morrill picked up her second foul with 3:09 left in the second quarter. She later picked up her third foul two minutes into the second half.
"That was huge," Peters said of the foul. "We still had a lot of basketball left and that throws off our rhythm and rotation. Jane is so versatile, she can take you outside with the jumper and inside. It limited our capabilities. But she came back in and played smart."
The Cardinals started to take over late in the third.
With the score at 33-32 in favor of Webb City, the Cardinals finished off the period with a 6-2 run to take a 39-34 advantage.
"They kept beating us back door," Morrill said. "We were putting so much pressure up on the shooters we got beat back. We couldn't get going on offense either, and that made everything worse."
The Cardinals' Roderique took over in the fourth quarter.
The 5-10 junior netted 11 of Webb City's 21 points.
"We knew they were a good team," Roderique said. "We wanted to come out strong sometime and finish the journey."
Junior guard Allyson Bradshaw scored a team-high 18 points for Notre Dame, while Morrill added 16. Senior Meghan Dohogne added four points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
"Great players are going to get theirs on this level," Webb City coach Brad Shorter said. "We were hoping Kaitlin [Jaeger] would do a great job on Jane, and she did. With Bradshaw, we rotated three different kids on her and tried to wear her down."
Notre Dame looked tired in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs didn't crumble.
The Bulldogs made one final push with Webb City threatening to pull away.
The Cardinals went up 46-38 on a Breanna Baker basket with 5:38 left, but Bradshaw buried a 3-pointer and a possession later Katherine Blasiney drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut the Cardinals' lead to 48-44 with less than five minutes remaining.
"We knew if they fouled, we were in the 1-and-1," Bradshaw said. "So we tried to go hard to the basket and find an open shot."
Notre Dame got no closer.
The Bulldogs twice cut the lead to five points on 3-pointers by Morrill, but Webb City held on.
Notre Dame graduates five seniors, while returning five underclassmen, including three starters.
"We have huge shoes to fill," sophomore forward Brooke Bohnert said. "But we can do it. These seniors are a big part of our team. It's going to be hard next year without them."