QND underclassmen seize opportunity for playing time, develop some long-term confidence

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Quincy Notre Dame freshman forward Tristan Pieper applies defensive pressure during the second half of Monday night's 64-22 victory over Rushville-Industry at The Pit. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The day is coming, and the underclassmen on the Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball team are keenly aware of it.

Abbey Schreacke, Blair Eftink and the rest of the seniors who have engineered a remarkable run of success for Class 2A’s defending state champion and current No. 1-ranked team will graduate.

That’s when it becomes their team and their game. So seizing the opportunity to play every minute possible this season is a must, and Monday night in a 64-22 West Central Conference victory over Rushville-Industry, the bulk of the minutes came their way.

“It’s nice that we get to have all of our players in the game, especially when our seniors get us up by a lot,” freshman forward Tristan Pieper said after QND improved to 23-1 with its 16th straight victory. “Everyone gets the chance to play.”

It’s an incalculable benefit.

“Everyone gets experience for next year so everyone knows what they’re doing when they get on the court,” Pieper said.

In Pieper’s case, she’s showcasing the ability to shoot and score. She finished with a season-high 14 points, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and playing with the swagger that has earned her more minutes as the season has progressed.

“I started off strong, so I just kept shooting it,” Pieper said.

The confidence to do that comes from playing with four-year starters like Schreacke and Eftink, who finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively.

“Everyone shares the ball really well,” Pieper said. “When they know you’re in the game, they want you to pass it and they pass it right back. They want you to get good open looks.”

Then they become the underclassmen’s biggest cheerleaders.

“They do a lot for us during practice, so it’s really good to be able to see them perform that way in an actual game,” Eftink said. “We get super excited on the bench. They cheer us on really well throughout the whole season. So this is fun for us to be able to do that for them, too.”

Experience has taught them the benefit of the game minutes, too.

“We’ve been short on JV games lately, so it’s a really good opportunity to get them in and get them playing,” Eftink said. “It builds their confidence when they’re able to score.”

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