Principia’s defense creates havoc, deficit QND is unable to erase
QUINCY — After having not played in 13 days, the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball players figured they would have to knock off a little rust.
The Raiders just didn’t expect it would take them until the second half to do it.
By that time, it was too late.
Principia’s tenacious defense limited QND to five field goals while forcing 14 turnovers to build a 20-point halftime lead Friday night en route to a 58-46 victory in a Quincy Shootout contest in The Pit.
Seven different players scored in the first quarter for the St. Louis school as it held the Raiders scoreless for the final six minutes to bolt to a 19-3 lead. The Panthers stretched the advantage to 34-14 by halftime and were never really threatened in winning for the 12th time in 15 games.
“That wasn’t us,” senior guard Aden Genenbacher said after QND fell to 9-8. “We hadn’t played in two weeks, and we just weren’t ready for that pressure. We thought we could attack them, but we came out slow and didn’t get stuff rolling.
“We gave a good fight in the second half, but that first quarter just killed us.”
Jace Allensworth’s tip-in of his own miss two minutes into the game was the only field goal the Raiders mustered in the opening period. They turned the ball over seven times and repeatedly missed shots from close range and the perimeter, although they rarely got an uncontested look.
Meanwhile, Principia, with no seniors on its roster, relied on a balanced attack offensively. Christian Dake and Jaedyn Jones combined for three 3-pointers in the first quarter and Jaylen Edwards, Quentin Coleman and Sekou Cisse were cleaning up missed shots inside.
Midway through the second quarter, QND had twice as many turnovers (12) as points (6).
An 8-0 run punctuated by back-to-back 3-pointers by Tyler Bozarth pulled the Raiders within 25-14. But two inside buckets by Ben Okoro, a driving layup and free throw by Coleman, and a dunk by Gassim Toure in the closing two minutes pushed the margin to 20 at intermission.
The advantage could have been much larger had Principia not misfired on several close-in attempts.
“I thought everything was rushed,” QND coach Kevin Meyer said. “In the first half it was like, ‘Oh, gosh, here comes another guy flying at me.’ I thought our anxiousness got us playing too fast. We played laterally instead of going downhill.
“The challenge of it in the second half was whether we were going to come out and compete or were we going to turn this into something ugly.”
The Raiders found a rhythm offensively in the second half, especially from the perimeter, sinking five 3-pointers. Genenbacher, Alex Dance and Noah Lunt combined for 19 points after being held scoreless in the opening half.
However, despite steadier play, the early deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
The closest QND would get was 55-46 with a little less than three minutes remaining on a 3-pointer by Genenbacher from the left wing. The Raiders then turned the ball over on consecutive possessions and failed to score again. They finished with 22 turnovers.
“We would make a run or gamble a little bit and they would attack and make a shot or get a steal and a layup,” Meyer said. “You have to tip your hat to them. They made more threes in this game (5) than the four games I watched of them on tape combined.”
Coleman and Edwards led Principia with 12 points apiece, while Dake and Okora had nine each. Nine players in all scored for the Panthers, who face Winchester West Central at 9 a.m. Saturday in Blue Devil Gym.
Allensworth paced QND with 12 points and Genenbacher had 11. The Raiders, who also missed six of 11 free-throw attempts, will try to snap a two-game losing streak when they host Beardstown in a regular-season game Saturday night.
“We have to find a way to rebound,” Meyer said.
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