Wallingford’s return helps Raiders kickstart Shootout weekend with victory over Indians


Quincy Notre Dame's Jake Wallingford, left, and Braden Sheffield line up to rebound on a free throw during Friday night's game against Payson Seymour in the KHQA-American Family Insurance Superfan Shootout at The Pit. | Ron Kinscherf photo

QUINCY — The gentle giant is back.

Jake Wallingford, the soft-spoken big man with an even softer jump shot, is once again an integral part of the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team.

The 6-foot-8 senior made his season debut Friday night, helping QND to a 70-42 victory over Payson Seymour in the KHQA-American Family Insurance Superfan Shootout at The Pit.

Wallingford, who underwent offseason hip surgery that kept him sidelined until this week, scored 17 points, secured eight rebounds and blocked a shot in about 20 minutes of game time.

“I was a little winded early, but it was great to be back and playing on this floor again,” Wallingford said. “I’ll be using the last few games of the regular season to mainly get in shape.”

Wallingford’s teammates were glad to have him back in the lineup.

“It’s great having Jake back — he’s a game changer,” 6-foot-4 senior forward Alex Connoyer said.

When on the floor at the same time, Connoyer and Wallingford provided a Tenth and Jackson Twin Tower effect. Connoyer, whose final numbers virtually mirrored those of Wallingford, finished with 17 points and 10 boards.

“We’ve been working all season to get where we’re at now,” Connoyer said. “We’ll be ready for the (postseason) tournament.”

Add QND coach Kevin Meyer to the list of those elated to see Wallingford’s return.

“I’m extremely proud of the way we’ve gotten to this point of the season,” said Meyer, whose club is 14-8. “I’m also excited about what’s ahead, to see how far this team can go in the postseason.”

Meyer lauded Wallingford’s work ethic and contributions during the time he was sidelined.

“Jake never missed a practice and even served as kind of an assistant coach,” Meyer said. 

Meyer said the rest of the team has kind of “gravitated toward (Wallingford)” in their support of the senior center.

“They want him to succeed,” Meyer said. “I’m just happy for Jake.”

Notre Dame took control of the game early in the second quarter with an 8-0 burst that provided a 23-15 lead, an advantage the Raiders maintained the rest of the half and eventually began to lengthen as the second half progressed. A 22-7 advantage over the final eight minutes punctuated the victory.

Charlie Lavery (10) and Jake Hoyt (8) combined for 18 QND points.

“The QND kids did a lot of good things, and give them credit for that,” Payson coach Tyler Duschinsky said.

Duschinsky said the overwhelming difference in the two clubs was QND’s major advantage up front.

“QND has kids who are 6-8, 6-4, 6-3 and so on, and our tallest kid is 6-1 — and he’s our point guard,” Duschinsky said.

The loss was the seventh straight for Payson (13-11), which has played a brutal schedule in recent weeks. Along with QND, the Indians have faced the likes of Jacksonville Routt, Brown County (twice), Central and Southeastern.

“We’ll be battle-tested come tournament time, and that’s what we want,” Duschinsky said.

Bryan Dieker (13) and Blake Schwartz (10) led Payson point producers. Wyatt Neisen was the top rebounder with eight.

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