Saints fend off Raiders’ comeback, set stage for potential sectional rematch

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Until we meet again.

That’s how Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball coach Kevin Meyer approached Monday’s 79-71 loss to Bloomington Central Catholic in the final game of the MLK Shootout at Cvengros Gym. Using history as a barometer, these two private schools could be on a collision course for another sectional showdown.

The Raiders and Saints are in opposite sub-sectionals in the Class 2A Pleasant Plains Sectional, leaving open the possibility of a rematch of last year’s sectional championship.

“We kept reminding our guys this is January, so we’re looking at this kind of like a midterm,” Meyer said. “This is a team we’ve had a history with. This is a team that knocked us out last year. This is a team we’d love to see again in the playoffs.

“So we looked at it as a great test for us. We need to go back, re-evaluate and hopefully things get better for us over the next month.”

There won’t be much to change, outside of handling certain late-game pressure situations better.

The Raiders (12-7) railed by nine points in the third quarter, but stormed back behind the strong interior play of Alex Connoyer and Josh Bocke to take a one-possession lead with less than three minutes to play.

But back-to-back turnovers allowed the Saints (14-6) to go ahead 68-67 before Connoyer split a pair of free throws with 1:40 remaining to tie the game at 68.

Cole Certa, the BCC junior all-state guard, made two free throws for a 70-68 lead before QND’s Charlie Lavery was knocked to the ground on a shot attempt in the lane with no foul being called. Meyer questioned the call and was hit with a technical foul.

The Saints turned it into a four-point swing and a two-possession game. Meyer didn’t want the late-game issues to take away from the effort his team put forth.

“I thought we played really, really well,” Meyer said. “Those were two good teams going at it. A couple of miscues and you end up with a loss like that, but a really good effort from a lot of our guys.”

Connoyer led the Raiders with 22 points, while Bocke had 19 points off the bench.

“It was four or five men down there battling in the post,” Meyer said. “Our guys got pretty banged up, but they came out of there with baskets. Our guys gave us everything they had.”

It’s the kind of effort that pays off in late February and early March.

“It was a battle,” Meyer said. “It was a slobberknocker. It was physical. It was a grinder. It felt like a postseason game.”

Certa led the Saints with 39 points.

“Our guards did a good job of guarding,” Meyer said. “When you look in the book and you see you gave up 39 points to Certa and you feel you did a really good job on him, you shake your head. But we didn’t get hurt by anyone else.”

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