Schuckman: Eftink’s return to court gives JWCC women’s basketball team perfect boost at perfect time


Blair Eftink, Quincy Notre Dame's all-time leading 3-pointer shooter, has been a late-season boon for the John Wood Community College women's basketball team after joining the Trail Blazers in mid-February. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Blair Eftink’s roommate may have hinted at or suggested a time or two the former Quincy Notre Dame sharpshooting guard not give up on her basketball career. 

“Or maybe a lot,” Katey Flynn said with a smile and a chuckle.

And for good reason.

The John Wood Community College women’s basketball team needed depth and an outside shooting presence, and throughout their months living together, Flynn could see Eftink missed the game and the camaraderie it creates.

“We had talked about it for next year with the possibility of her coming back to play,” Flynn said. “So I was really glad the opportunity came up where it was like, ‘Hey, we need another player.’ I was like, ‘I know the perfect girl for you.’”

Although the regular season was dwindling down, Flynn and JWCC coach Lauren Bogle knew Eftink’s presence could help.

It’a a reason the Trail Blazers are still playing.

Eftink made three 3-pointers during a fourth-quarter run Wednesday night, helping the Trail Blazers finally pull away from Illinois Central College with an 80–63 victory in the Region 24 quarterfinals at the Student Activity Center. Fourth-seeded JWCC (17-12) advances to face top-seeded Parkland (25-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday in the region semifinals.

That may have not been possible without the added boost of a late-season addition.

“I was all for it,” Bogle said. “I’ve been in Katey’s ear about it, too. I didn’t want to personally get in there and make Blair feel like she was being pressured or forced. I know Blair well enough to know her character and her personality wasn’t going to bring us down. I know her presence fit in exactly with this group. So it was no question we’d take her.”

It came at a time when most teams’ rosters and rotations are set.

Eftink joined the Trail Blazers in mid-February — per NJCAA rules, players can be added to the roster anytime before the postseason starts as long as they were enrolled in the school during the first semester — and has played in three games.

She scored 10 points in her debut, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in a 77-49 victory over Lewis & Clark. She knocked down another 3-pointer in last Saturday’s 61-52 victory over Illinois Central College in the regular-season finale. Wednesday, she went 3 of 4 from 3-point range and scored nine points in eight minutes of action.

Eftink isn’t concerned about points or minutes or what comes next.

“I’m here to do whatever they need me to do,” she said.

Still, it’s been a challenge to regain the rhythm a shooter relies on when she hadn’t  played a competitive game in eight months.

“It was definitely a big adjustment,” Eftink said. “One, I hadn’t shot in so long. Two, going back when I had been shooting at the high school 3-point line my whole life. It’s definitely feeling natural again, and it feels great to be back out there and doing it.”

She hasn’t missed a beat. QND’s all-time leader in 3-point shooting is 6 of 15 from 3-point range in her three games with the Trail Blazers, and it’s given her that adrenalin rush she missed.

“It’s really exciting,” Eftink said of the crowd’s energy and excitement. “I love that feeling, and I definitely missed that. So it feels great to be back out here.”

Living with Flynn, the Brown County product who is JWCC’s leading scorer at 20 points per game, made it hard to ignore. 

“Hearing about her games, hearing about practices, I was kind of missing it,” Eftink said. “I was thinking maybe I could try next year. Then it just kind of came up and I decided just to take the opportunity. And I’m glad that I have.”

It’s been a perfect fit.

“The girls were very welcoming,” Bogle said. “Blair says that, too. I’ve seen it on the notes she’s given the other players. They’ve welcomed her with open arms. We’re a team no matter who comes in or who leaves. We stay in this together.”

And no longer does Flynn have to pester her roommate.

“I’m very happy she’s on the team,” Flynn said.

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