December to remember: Raiders cap hectic three-week schedule with another grind-it-out victory


Quincy Notre Dame's Abbey Schreacke alters the shot of Cardinal Ritter's Elyssa White, left, during Wednesday's game at the 15th annual Rumble on the River at John Wood Community College's Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Eric Orne wants the Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball players to relish a well-earned holiday reprieve.

“They get to rest,” the veteran coach said, “and they get to enjoy some family time.”

The Raiders get to do so as far away from the gym as they wish.

“He told us to forget about basketball for a couple of days,” Raiders senior guard Abbey Schreacke said.

Easier said than done.

“I can’t do that,” Schreacke said with a smile. “But it’s refreshing to take a break.”

Wednesday night’s 47-44 victory over Cardinal Ritter, a St. Louis private school ranked eighth in Missouri Class 4, in the 15th annual Rumble on the River was the Raiders’ 14th game in the first 21 days of December. They have not had consecutive days without a game since November and haven’t gone three straight days without a game since before Thanksgiving.

Now, the Raiders get four consecutive days off before reconvening.

“It feels good that this stretch is done and that we were really successful with it,” senior guard Blair Eftink said after QND went 13-1 in December and sits 17-1 overall and ranked first in Class 2A. “We learned a lot in those few weeks. And like Coach Orne said, no other QND team has played a stretch like that.

“It feels really good having that to give us a boost going into the later part of the season.”

The Raiders get more than just a few days off. They don’t play again until January 7 against Okawville at the Breese Central Shootout. After that, they play 10 of their final 11 games at The Pit with the one “road” game being at Quincy High School.

“We’ve seen a lot of different things, and I’m really hoping our experiences pay big dividends the second half of the season,” Orne said. “We have the chance to do a reset, get back to some basics, talk about things we can do a little better and maybe put in some new stuff so we’re not so predictable.

“The leadership of our seniors through this big run, the quality of play and the heart it took to play 14 games in 21 days is something special about this group.”

It took a little grit and grind to finish it with a victory.

Schreacke hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter to put the Raiders up 16-10 and they pushed the advantage to 21-10 before the Lions used their size advantage to fight their way back. Ai’Niyah Williams, a 6-foot-1 junior forward, scored four points in an 11-2 run that pulled Cardinal Ritter within 23-21 by halftime.

The Lions have four players on their roster 6-foot or taller. Only one — Hannah Wallace with 10 points — scored in double figures and one — Williams — fouled out.

“We didn’t want to front them and we didn’t want to play behind them,” Schreacke said. “We kind of half- or three-quarter guard the bigs, and we did a good job on them. Our half-court defense won us that game.”

So did free-throw shooting. The Raiders went 5 of 6 from the line in the fourth quarter with Eftink and Sage Stratton each hitting a pair in the final 90 seconds to maintain the lead, and QND finished 13 of 17.

“We know in the high-pressure times to put those in is really big,” Schreacke said.

Schreacke finished with 21 points, but was limited to two field goals in the second half as the Lions tried everything to keep the ball out of her hands.

“We’ve seen 12 or 13 different ways teams will defend her during this stretch,” Orne said. “It’s been hard. Even tonight it was hard because they did a good job on her. We had to find different ways to score. It became a grinder because we weren’t shooting it well, but we did those little things well.

“We got those extra rebounds, got some tie-ups, made things difficult for them in the second half.”

Eftink scored eight of her 12 points in the second half and finished 6 of 6 from the line on a night her 3-point shot was off.

“You still have to figure out ways to contribute,” Eftink said.

Just like the Raiders had to find ways to survive when fatigue wore them down.

“We can get through all the hard times together,” Schreacke said. “Coach said in the locker room maybe two of the games we played in December were just OK games. The rest were true grinders. That tells us we can get through all the tough times.”

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