Chiefs’ size tips scale in fourth quarter as Raiders close regular season with loss at home


Quincy Notre Dame's Noah Lunt, left, tries to defend Keokuk's Jaxson Clark during the second half of Friday night's game at The Pit. | Ron Kinscherf photo

QUINCY — Kevin Meyer felt the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team was about to turn the “juice” loose.

Alas, there was no juice. Only squeezing.

And it was the Raiders who wound up getting squeezed over the final eight minutes Friday night in a 55-45 loss to Keokuk in front of a Senior Night crowd at The Pit.

QND trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, but gradually worked its way back into the game and eventually secured a 36-35 lead going into the fourth quarter.  

“I thought we had some juice,” Meyer said about that juncture in the game.

And then along came Keokuk 6-foot-9 sophomore center Jaxon Clark, who poured through 13 fourth-quarter points and fueled a 10-0 Keokuk run that gave the Chiefs (15-6) a 48-38 lead. The Raiders (17-10) never threatened again, seeing their four-game win streak snapped.

Clark finished with a game-high 27 points.

“We just didn’t have a 6-9 guy to go against him,” Meyer said. “We had no match for him.”

QND is not the only opponent who has had trouble defending Clark. He was coming off a 34-point, 18-rebound showing in an 84-73 double-overtime victory against West Hancock on Tuesday evening. That’s the same West Hancock club the Raiders downed 68-64 one night later, a victory that earned QND a share of the West Central Conference title with the Titans.

“(Clark) makes us look like I know what I’m doing,” Keokuk coach Zach Summers said. “He has so many skills.”

Clark runs the floor well and is an above-average passer. He needs to work on upper-body strength over the next couple of years, according to Summers, who says Clark is already receiving considerable college interest from NCAA Division I mid-major and Division II schools.

“Once his body develops more, the interest is going to increase,” Summers said.

Clark finished with five rebounds and two blocked shots.

Jace Allensworth scored 13 and Conner Young added 12 for QND, which found itself down 22-9 in the second quarter before outscoring Keokuk 15-2 late in the first half to trail just 27-26 at intermission.

The Raiders held serve throughout the third quarter, thanks in part to some determined inside play from Jackson Connoyer, whose team-best eight rebounds helped QND hold its own along the baseline. The Raiders outrebounded Keokuk 28-24.

“The tide really turned in the fourth quarter,” Summers said. “We became more aggressive after Notre Dame had dominated us for most of the (middle two quarters).

“We’re about where we should be at this point of the season. We beat a very good West Hancock team, and then we were able to beat Notre Dame at The Pit where it is always a great environment.”

Keokuk guard Diego Garcia was the Chiefs’ other double-figure scorer, ending with 12 points, plus lassoing a game-high nine rebounds.

Meyer felt Friday’s test was a perfect pre-postseason game for QND, which opens Class 2A regional play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Athens. The No. 3-seeded Raiders will face either No. 5 Williamsville or No. 11 Buffalo Tri-City.

“We ended the regular season 17-10, and now we’re 0-0,” Meyer said.

Meyer feels his club’s schedule should have it well prepared for the postseason.

“Of our 10 losses, nine came against opponents that had winning records,” he said. 

Ron Kinscherf photos

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Related Articles