QND’s dream of back-to-back state titles gets dashed with semifinal loss to Mater Dei
NORMAL, Ill. — The coaching adage “you can’t teach size” needs to come with a addendum.
It would read, “You can’t always combat it either.”
The Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball team discovered how true that can be Thursday.
Forced to contend with Breese Mater Dei’s Alyssa Koerkenmeier — a 6-foot-5 sophomore forward — and a Knights’ lineup featuring five players 5-foot-10 or taller, the Raiders struggled more offensively in Thursday’s Class 2A state semifinal than they have at any point this season.
QND shot 37 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range, while allowing Koerkenmeier to control the paint in a 61-54 at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena. It ended the Raiders’ 27-game win streak and dashed all hopes of winning back-to-back state championships.
“It’s pretty hard playing a team when the lineup is all 6-foot,” QND senior guard Abbey Schreacke said. “It’s really tough for all of us. They’re all lengthy. It’s hard to even pass around them. We just had to work together and try to keep doing what we were doing when we didn’t have the advantage.”
Mater Dei’s man-to-man defense challenged and frustrated QND.
The Raiders, who went on to beat Chicago Butler College Prep 66-57 in the third-place late Thursday night, struggled to maintain consistency. They scored on three consecutive possessions late in the first quarter and again late in the fourth quarter. In between, they did not score on back-to-back possessions once.
“I thought they’d play a little bit more zone than what they did,” QND senior guard Blair Eftink said. “They just play good defense.”
Offensively, the Knights were always on the attack.
It started by getting the ball to Koerkenmeier, who scored 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds in the first half alone. The Knights led 29-23 at halftime, having scored 28 points in the paint.
“Their post player had quite a star moment,” QND coach Eric Orne said.
Koerkenmeier finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Mater Dei’s Amelia Beer had 19 points and Avery Trame had 12, both scoring off dribble penetration and helping the Knights own a 42-12 advantage overall in points in the paint.
Schreacke led the Raiders with 22 points, but went 8 of 21 from the field. Eftink had 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
“I thought we had some really good looks, and today they just didn’t fall,” Orne said. “That happens.”
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