QUINCY — The knockout punch came quickly.
Quincy Notre Dame scored early and often Friday night, opening its girls basketball season with a relatively easy 68-39 victory over Hardin Calhoun at The Pit.
“I felt we played with a lot of confidence,” QND senior Blair Eftink said. “We were excited to play.”
The game was Notre Dame’s first since winning the Class 2A state championship back in March, the sixth such championship in the Raiders’ storied history.
QND, 30-3 last season, leveled Calhoun with one heck of a haymaker in the first quarter, erasing any question about the game’s ultimate outcome.
The Raiders vaulted to a 23-2 lead, with returning all-stater and University of Missouri commit Abbey Schreacke providing 10 of her team-leading 19 points in the first quarter.
“Early in the game, our press was effective,” QND coach Eric Orne said. “Our tempo was good, and we got a lot of easy buckets off transition.”
Notre Dame forced 14 first-quarter turnovers by Calhoun, which was coming off a 21-12 season and is expected to be one of the better Class 1A clubs in the Metro East region.
Orne referred to the opening eight minutes as a “stampede.”
“We had good energy in the first quarter,” he said.
The Raiders, who placed four players in double figures, led at the quarter breaks 23-4, 45-18 and 56-30. Part of the final period was played with a running clock.
“I thought we ran the floor well,” said Eftink, who was one of four Raiders with at least one 3-pointer.
The 5-foot-11 Schreacke drained three, Sage Stratton and Eftink nailed a pair and Ari Buehler dropped in one. Buehler (15), Eftink (14) and Stratton (10) were the other double-figure scorers for QND.
The opening game was especially rewarding for Buehler, one of two freshmen in the QND starting lineup — Jenna Durst was the other. Buehler had transferred from Unity and admitted to some pregame jitters.
“I was really nervous early, but when I made a 3-pointer that helped,” Buehler said. “This was a very good experience. I really feel like this team has a special kind of bond.”
Orne liked what he saw in his two rookie starters.
“Our two freshmen played very well,” he said. “The moment was not too big for them.”
The bright spot for Calhoun was the play of 6-1 sophomore center Kate Zippich, who scored 22 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. Twenty of those points, however, came following the first period when the verdict had all but been determined.
Orne said the Raiders need some more work on defense, but overall, he admitted there was not much to be upset about.
“I like where we are at right now,” he said.
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