Allensworth’s career night carries Raiders past Titans, forges ties for WCC championship


Quincy Notre Dame sophomore guard Jace Allensworth scored a career-high 30 points in Tuesday night's 68-64 victory over West Hancock at Warsaw, Ill. | Muddy River Sports file photo

WARSAW, Ill. — Fittingly, it was Jace Allensworth who sealed the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team’s 68-64 victory Tuesday night over West Hancock.

Allensworth, a 6-foot sophomore guard, swished a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining to cap a brilliant offensive night for himself and punctuate an impressive turnaround for the Raiders.

Allensworth’s free throws gave QND its four-point advantage, turning what was left of the West Central Conference contest into a two-possession game for West Hancock, but the Titans were unable to put any additional points on the board in the closing seconds.

The QND victory means the Raiders (17-9, 8-1 WCC) share the league title with West Hancock (22-7, 8-1 WCC). Camp Point Central (20-7, 7-2 WCC) finished third.

Allensworth’s late free throws were the perfect accent to his career-high 30 points, which included a 7-for-7 performance from behind the 3-point stripe. Allensworth scored 20 of his points in the first half when QND was close to getting blown out.

“Jace just carried the other 18 guys on his back tonight,” QND coach Kevin Meyer said. “He kept us alive in the first half and gave us a chance.”

West Hancock owned a double-figure lead much of the opening two quarters, but a second-period surge from Notre Dame, fueled by five of Allensworth’s 3-pointers, drew QND within 36-33 by halftime.

“Yeah, I was a little worried in the first half,” QND senior forward Noah Lunt said. “We just tried to keep our focus on doing the little things.”

Even Meyer admitted some concern during the first half.

“Things were looking a little bleak,” he said. 

The second half was a back-and-forth exercise in momentum swings and lead changes until the Raiders were finally able to lock down their fourth straight win by scoring six of the game’s final nine points in the closing minute.

“After I hit my first couple (of 3-pointers), I could kind of feel it, and I knew the coaches wanted me to keep shooting,” Allensworth said.

Allensworth, who said he’d “been in a shooting slump” recently, topped his previous career high with his two late free throws. He had scored 29 in a 65-52 victory over Beardstown on Jan. 20.

Allensworth said it had been important for the Raiders to “keep working” in the first half, despite finding themselves down 26-14 after the first quarter. QND still trailed by a dozen (31-19) about three minutes before halftime until a late barrage from the Raiders — triggered by Allensworth’s hot hand — saw Notre Dame register 14 of the half’s final 19 points.

“They needed a career night to beat us,” West Hancock coach Jeff Dahl said. “We didn’t have any career nights.”

The loss to Notre Dame was West Hancock’s second close defeat in as many nights. The Titans had dropped an 84-73 double-overtime game Monday night to Keokuk, Iowa. Ironically, Keokuk and QND tangle Friday night at The Pit in QND’s final regular-season game.

Dahl felt one of the key stretches in the game came in the second quarter when West Hancock was unable to remain in control after building its sizable early advantage.

Dahl felt the Titans became hesitant on offense following what had been a dominant first quarter.

“For some reason, we stopped attacking,” he said.

The game eventually came down to an ongoing series of moves and countermoves between two veteran coaches.

“This time of year, all good teams know one another’s (tendencies),” Dahl said.

Lunt (8), Aden Genenbacher (7) and Jackson Connoyer (7) combined for an additional 22 QND points. 

Lunt also played a key role in the fourth quarter, scoring six of his points in an 8-0 QND run that gave the Raiders a 62-55 lead. Moments later, however, West Hancock went on a run of its own and sliced QND’s margin to 62-61, setting up the frantic final minute.

“This was a great game, with a great crowd and a great atmosphere,” Lunt said. 

Lewis Siegfried’s 20 points, including 13 in the second half, headed West Hancock scoring. Nolan Hurt added 10 points and Gavin Grothaus contributed nine.

West Hancock owned a 32-23 rebounding advantage with Siegfried grabbing seven and and Cooper Knowles six. Knowles also had a pair of blocks and a dunk.

West Hancock built its early lead with the help of seven 3-point field goals, but were blanked from long distance in the second half. Counting QND’s long-range hits, the two clubs combined for 19 3-pointers.

“We gave up a lot of threes early, but from the second quarter on I felt like our defense was able to disrupt things,” Meyer said. “We beat a good team tonight, West Hancock is a dynamic, high-quality team.”

Meyer hopes the victory serves as a late-season stepping stone.

“We need to maintain this momentum and find some more consistency heading into the postseason,” he said.

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