‘We put defense first’: Raiders put clamps on Pirates’ attack to run away with Rumble victory


Quincy Notre Dame's Marie Eversman, right, pressures Hannibal's Malia Stolte during the first half of Friday night's game in the Rumble on the River at John Wood Community College's Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Sage Stratton’s assessment of the nearly 12-minute stretch in which the Hannibal girls basketball team went without a field goal Friday night should attract as much attention as the effort itself.

“We put defense first and we work hard on defense,” the Quincy Notre Dame junior guard said. “It doesn’t matter what court we play on or where we play. We play hard defense everywhere.”

It’s an everyday thing, not just a game day thing.

“We come to practice every day knowing our defense is what is going to win us games,” QND sophomore forward Tristan Pieper said. “If we can stop a team by playing defense, we know we’ve done our job and our offense is just going to follow.”

The two went hand-in-hand in the Rumble on the River opener.

QND scooted to a 15-1 lead and held a 24-3 advantage before Mariah Mayfield made a mid-range jumper with 4 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the first half for Hannibal’s first field goal. It didn’t alleviate the offensive struggles as the Pirates shot just 20.5 percent from the field in a 59-21 loss at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center.

“We went out and played good, solid basketball,” QND coach Eric Orne said. 

That’s an understatement for the defensive effort.

Hannibal missed its first 13 shots and turned the ball over 11 times before Mayfield’s first field goal. The Pirates made three free throws prior to that as Malia Stolte, who led the Pirates with six points, went 1 of 2 and Aubrielle Krigbaum went 2 of 2 from the line, albeit 9 minutes, 3 seconds apart.

The Pirates trailed 34-10 at halftime before getting outscored 17-5 in the third quarter, invoking the mercy rule running clock for the final eight minutes.

“We’re making some strides and trying to stay as balanced as we can,” Orne said.

Offensively, the Raiders shot 48.1 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range. Stratton, who was named the game’s MVP, finished with 15 points and sophomore guard Ari Buehler added 11 points, while seven other players found their way into the scoring column.

As good as the defensive numbers were, the Raiders’ ability to dish out 21 assists on 26 field goals was equally impressive.

Pieper flirted with a triple-double, finishing with nine points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Jenna Durst added four assists, while Stratton and Buehler each had three.

“We needed a good game to boost our confidence,” Stratton said.

That’s because it comes at the start of a pre-Christmas gauntlet. The Raiders (11-1) will face Troy (Mo.) Buchanan at noon Saturday in the Rumble on the River before facing Central-Southeastern at The Pit on Monday with games against Burlington (Iowa) Notre Dame and Beardstown later next week.

“We want to go into the Christmas break on a good note,” Orne said. “This is one step in that direction.”

Troy is 4-0 and features two talented underclassmen in the backcourt in sophomore guard Mya Robinson and freshman guard Grace Means.

“It’s a team we’ve never played,” Stratton said. “We know they’re a really good, scrappy, tough team kind of like us. We just know they’re going to be good.”

Putting the focus on the task at hand is paramount.

“Our shootaround is going to be important,” Orne said. “We’re going to have to do some things well because the challenge is going to be big.”

Playing 11 players against Hannibal helps, especially since none of the starters played more than 21 minutes.

“Being able to play most of our bench and save some legs is really positive for our team,” Pieper said. “Tomorrow, we’re going to have to come in and work and work really hard.”

The benefit of grinding through this final stretch of games is getting two weeks off around the holidays.

“We’re glad we get that two-week break so we can recoup,” Stratton said. “And when you have a big game like against Breese Mater Dei at the beginning when you come back, it’s a great two weeks to re-energize ourselves.”

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