QND girls developing depth during December’s endless run of games

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Quincy Notre Dame guard Sage Stratton, left, drives to the basket during the second half of Saturday's game against Moberly in the Rumble on the River at John Wood Commnunity College's Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — No rest for the weary. At least not for a few more days.

The December schedule that has the top-ranked Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball team playing 13 games in 21 days is nearing its end. Two games in a three-day span will wrap it up before the Raiders go 17 days until their next game.

“It will be a good break to give our legs some rest,” freshman forward Jenna Durst said. “Then get back in the gym and play some tough games again.”

By then, QND coach Eric Orne will know just how deep into his bench he can go.

Saturday, with senior guard Blair Eftink absent due to a family commitment, the Raiders were forced to dip deeper into their reserves and the end result was another victory. QND outscored Moberly 14-5 in the third quarter and finished off a 48-33 victory in the 15th annual Rumble on the River at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center.

“All things considered, I was incredibly proud of this group,” Orne said. “That was a great effort. We obviously knew Blair wasn’t going to be here today, but we talked through some things doing shootaround and we watched game film. Moberly was going to be a challenge with a lot of height and a lot of athletic ability.”

That included first-team all-state guard Grace Billington, but QND sophomore guard Sage Stratton locked down on Billington, limiting her to two field goals and six points. Billington didn’t score in the second quarter, a crucial stretch in which the Spartans held the Raiders to two points and took a 24-23 lead into halftime.

“Sage’s defense on their all-stater was incredible,” Orne said. “That kept us in the ballgame when we had the lull in the second quarter.”

A more aggressive approach on offense changed things in the third quarter.

“We thought we could get downhill with some of our sets, which we were able to,” Orne said. “And we got good contributions across the board. Our bench depth was vital today. We subbed a lot of kids in. We were sharper coming out in the third quarter.”

The Raiders (14-1) led 33-29 before Durst scored on back-to-back possessions late in the third quarter to make it a three-possession game, and QND maintained the edge the rest of the way.

“We knew we needed to get downhill and score inside,” said Durst, who finished with 12 points. “My teammates have confidence in me. Our coaches have confidence in me. They are telling me to go to the basket and score.”

Abbey Schreacke led the Raiders with 13 points, and Ari Buehler added 11. Ana Fanning led the Spartans with 14 points.

“We shared the ball well,” Orne said. 

That will have to happen to handle two more games — Monday’s trip to Central-Southeastern and Wednesday’s Rumble on the River showdown with St. Louis Cardinal Ritter, ranked eighth in Missouri Class 4.

For now, getting some rest is a point of emphasis.

“A little bit,” Durst said when asked if the legs are getting weary. “But Coach Orne does a good job of giving us rest days and taking it easy in practice. He helps with that a lot.”

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