Raiders shake off first-quarter slumber, advance to third straight sectional championship game


Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball coach Eric Orne gives instructions to his team during a timeout in the Class 3A sectional semifinal Tuesday night against Mahomet-Seymour in Decatur, Ill. | Ron Kinscherf photo

DECATUR, Ill. — Survive and advance. That’s all.

“It was not our best game obviously,” Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball coach Eric Orne said after the Raiders eliminated Mahomet-Seymour with Tuesday night’s 63-46 victory in the semifinals of the Class 3A Decatur MacArthur Sectional.

“But you know at this time of year, you got to be the best team that night and we were the best team tonight.”

But it wasn’t easy.

The Raiders failed to score on their first eight possessions and trailed 10-0 before getting two free throws from sophomore forward Tristan Pieper with 3 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

After two more empty possessions, QND scored its first field goal as sophomore forward Jenna Durst converted with 1:55 to go in the quarter. It fueled a 10-3 run to close the quarter that left the Raiders trailing by only three.

“It was a little bit of a shock to my system to be down that quick and kind of just get hit with a lightning bolt from Mahomet-Seymour,” Orne said. “But I give them a lot of credit. I knew coming in they would be well coached\ and they were going to play extremely hard.”

The Raiders’ defensive pressure in the second quarter turned the game around. Turnovers led to points on the first four possessions of the quarter to give the Raiders the lead for good at 19-13.

“Once our defense got ramped up, we started cutting harder, we started getting to the rim, getting downhill,” Orne said. “We made a few shots, a couple of threes, and then we just really started settling in.”

Quincy Notre Dame led 26-20 at halftime.

“We talked at halftime that our energy has to be high,” QND sophomore point guard Ari Buehler said. “We have to come out and want to fight, just keep playing no matter how hard it is or what happens in the game.” 

Buehler led the second-half surge, scoring nine consecutive points in the third quarter as the Raiders piled up 24 points in the frame.

“Any good team has a good point guard,” Orne said. “And Ari’s a very good point guard for us. And she really did a great job distributing the ball tonight and getting to the basket.”

Three Raiders finished in double figures led by junior Sage Stratton with 21 points, including four 3-pointers. Pieper chipped in 17 to go with six rebounds. Buehler, averaging seven points per game this season, finished with 15. 

Orne hopes to see that scoring balance continue when QND (28-4) faces Chatham Glenwood at 6 p.m. Thursday in the sectional title game. The Titans knocked off Mt. Zion 51-34 in the other semifinal. This is the Raiders’ third consecutive appearance in a sectional championship game.

“Any time you can get three kids with 15-plus points in the postseason, your chances of being successful are pretty darn good,” Orne said.

The Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball player huddle before taking the court following a break in the action during Tuesday night’s Class 3A sectional semifinal against Mahomet-Seymour in Decatur, Ill. | Ron Kinscherf photo

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