Halftime discussion enables QND boys basketball team to alter tide in victory over Macomb

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Quincy Notre Dame's Charlie Lavery, right, and Jackson Stratton attempt to trap Macomb guard Connor Watson during Saturday night's game at The Pit. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — As the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball coaching staff met in the office adjacent to the locker room at halftime Saturday night, the Raiders were engaging in their own discussion.

The theme of both conversations seemed to be the same.

What is the Raiders’ identity going to be?

The second half — particularly the fourth quarter — may have revealed it. QND opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run, then fashioned 11-2 stretch lasting to the midpoint of the fourth quarter and outlasted Macomb for a 52-44 victory at The Pit.

“At halftime, everything was player led,” QND senior forward Alex Connoyer said. “We were talking through what we were struggling with. In the third quarter, we were kind of figuring it out. In the fourth quarter, it clicked. We trusted each other. We communicated. We were just going.”

The Raiders were getting the ball to the block as well.

QND’s final eight field goals were scored at the rim, either off dribble penetration, throwing the ball to the post or fighting for an offensive rebound. It put pressure on the Macomb defense as Connoyer and senior forward Josh Bocke were relentless and physical.

“We just had the mentality that we’re not losing this game,” Bocke said. “Our energy levels went way up. We pretty much decided we’re not losing.”

It was decided in the locker room.

“There’s six seniors in there, so you have to listen to them,” QND coach Kevin Meyer said. “We’re in the coaches’ office and we’re like, ‘What’s our identity? What do we trust? What do we want to do?’ We went out and asked them that and they talked. It was good stuff. It was really, really good stuff.

“It comes from those guys being leaders. It comes from those guys being in competitive, competitive spots in a bunch of sports, and it showed tonight. Our senior leadership really came through tonight.”

The halftime discussion was instructional as much as it was motivational.

“We were in there coaching each other up,” senior point guard Jake Hoyt said. “We were telling each other switches, talking through stuff defensively we have to get around. We knew the offense would come eventually. We just needed shots to fall. Defensively, that’s where we needed to step it up.”

The Raiders were convinced it was possible.

“We just said, ‘We played our worst half out there. They played a pretty good half,’” Bocke said. “We just had to flip the page and move on.”

That started with a jumper. On the first possession of the third quarter, Hoyt circled to the left corner, took a pass from the post and buried a 3-pointer that kickstarted the nine-point spurt that turned a five-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead.

Macomb (4-2) had led by as many as nine points on three separate occasions as guard Nolan Kerr scored eight of his 

“It was right in front of me,” Meyer said. “I was watching the ball come out of the post, and then all of a sudden, it’s out of my eyesight and he nails it. I give him a pat on the butt as he runs by, and I’m like, ‘Stay in it. That worked. Let’s run it again.’”

Instead of a 3-pointer, the set resulted in Bocke scoring consecutive baskets at the rim as QND took the lead three minutes into the second half. Bocke finished the third quarter with a shot from the block with 15 seconds remaining, give the Raiders a 38-36 lead.

They never trailed again.

QND scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to go ahead 45-36, and they finished the stanza by making 5 of 6 free throws. Bocke led the Raiders with 16 points, and Connoyer added 15 points. They combined 21 points in the second half. 

“Our bigs were great,” Meyer said. “Our guards trusted them, too. They were throwing it in there and then they were watching it. If there was a double team, it was coming back out. If there wasn’t a double, then let them go to work. Our spacing was good tonight. Josh and Alex worked their game, but then they worked together, too.

“They were looking at it post-to-post. They sensed, ‘What works for me is going to work for him as well.’”

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