QND girls return home for first time in 25 days, recover from slow start to beat Hinsdale South
QUINCY — A week of uncertainty and irregularities ended with what Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball coach Eric Orne had been craving the last few days.
That was a chance to play a game at The Pit.
“We want to give these kids an opportunity to play, and that’s why today was so important,” Orne said. “We flipped on the lights and aired up the basketballs and gave both schools an opportunity to play.”
A snowy forecast and sub-zero temperatures left Saturday’s contest with Class 3A foe Hinsdale South in doubt, but the Hornets boarded the bus at 6 a.m. and made the 295-mile trek to Quincy. QND’s first game at home in 25 days ended with a 43-31 victory, keeping them undefeated at The Pit this season.
Initially, a double-digit win seemed far from reality. The Hornets’ in-your-face defense prevented the Raiders from scoring a basket in the first quarter. QND, ranked third in Class 3A, was held to two free throws and trailed 5-2 after the initial eight minutes.
“Luckily, we rebounded with 16 points in the second quarter,” Orne said. “I thought we just found our rhythm a little bit, got some balance, and started playing harder.”
The Raiders erased a five-point deficit in the final few minutes of the second quarter and ended the frame on a 9-2 run to take a 18-16 lead into halftime.
“We conquered it,” QND junior guard Sage Stratton said when asked about the first quarter struggles. “We regrouped in our huddle. (We said) let’s run our offense, let’s calm down and let’s just get a basket at a time.’”
QND (17-2) locked down defensively in the third quarter. The Raiders held the Hornets (17-5) to two field goals, both 3-pointers, and kept Hinsdale South senior forward Mimi Flowers in check. Flowers, who averages a double-double, managed only a pair of free throws in the quarter. QND sophomore forward Tristan Pieper drew the assignment defending Flowers and Pieper’s teammates were impressed.
“Tristan did an amazing job,” QND sophomore guard Ari Buehler said.
The Raiders also doubled down in the post to make post touches difficult for Flowers, who had a game-high 13 points.
“We wanted to make everything she did difficult,” Orne said.
Offensively, the Raiders did most of their damage in the middle two quarters combined, scoring 31 of their 43 points.
Buehler played a key role as all four of her field goals, including two 3-pointers, came during that stretch.
“I was thinking more about trying to score and other ways to help my team than just trying to find the open person,” Buehler said.
It’s no secret Buehler has the ability to score, and Orne hopes the trend continues.
“We need her to get 10-12 (points) a game,” Orne said. “She’s one of the quicker players in the area and she has the ability to get downhill and knock down a shot.”
Buehler and Stratton both scored 11 points while freshman Marie Eversman came off the bench to add nine points and sophomore Jenna Durst scored eight points, all in the second half.
Orne said wins against programs like Hinsdale South can only help with the Class 3A postseason only a few weeks away.
“It just gives us more confidence when we have to play against a harder quality opponent that we can reach down sometimes to continue to play good defense and can get a win,” Orne said.
Added Stratton, “We just love games like these. Tough games are the best games to win.”
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