Defensive traction not enough to turn tide in QND’s favor in setback against Father Tolton

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Father Tolton forward Evens Appolon, left, blocks the shot of Quincy Notre Dame guard Charlie Lavery during Friday night's game in the Quincy Shootout at The Pit. | Photo courtesy Max Bennett

QUINCY — The traction gained repeatedly on defense didn’t translate to offensive efficiency, handcuffing the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team in its comeback effort Friday night.

Despite holding Columbia (Mo.) Father Tolton to a pair of fourth-quarter field goals, the Raiders managed just three field goals themselves, resulting in a 49-41 loss in the fifth Quincy Shootout at The Pit.

Father Tolton’s presence in the middle — 6-foot-9 senior Evens Appolon — played a significant factor in how things played out. Appolon’s length and linebacker-type frame frustrated the Raiders’ frontcourt and limited the forwards effectiveness in the paint.

“I thought their guys did a good job of changing some shots, especially (Evens) Appolon,” QND coach Kevin Meyer said. “We did a good job getting to the basket, but he made us alter shots. We couldn’t trade baskets, and then when we couldn’t get a basket. That was the difference.”

QND (12-8) trailed for the entire contest, but trimmed the deficit to three points in the game’s final minutes. Father Tolton (10-5) made 9 of 13 free throws down the stretch to seal the deal. Trailblazers senior guard James Lee did most of the damage from the line, converting on 6 of 8 attempts in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 21 points.

Lee was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

The Raiders were led by senior guard Jake Hoyt, who had 11 points. Senior guard Charlie Lavery chipped in with nine points, and senior forward Josh Bocke added eight points.

Hoyt wasn’t satisfied with the outcome but felt the Raiders never backed down.

“We brought some intensity and did our job for the most part. But we’ve got to do a better job of grinding through our offense and make open shots,” Hoyt said.

Meyer feels they are heading in the right direction, especially on defense.

“Defense is our calling card right now,” he said. “To hold (Father Tolton) to 49 points is really a tell-tale sign of where we’re heading defensively. We’ve got to get stubborn and get two to three stops in a row,  and then we’ve got to score some baskets and that changes the outcome.”

Although the Raiders suffered two losses this week — they fell to Bloomington Central Catholic 79-71 on Monday — Meyer is encouraged his team is heading down the right path.

“There are no moral victories, but I’m pretty darn proud of our guys,” Meyer said. “That’s two games in a row we’ve gone toe-to-toe with really good teams. I keep reminding them we’re a good team, too. Things are getting better for us.”

Hoyt said the Raiders need to remain focused.

“It’s going to take hard work day in and day out,” he said. “We’ve got to believe in each other. That’s what it’s going to take.”

Said Meyer, “We’ve defined some roles and it’s a matter of sticking together. We’ve lost two in a row but it’s still January. We’ve got to stay optimistic and stay together. That’s the big thing for us right now.”

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