Second-quarter shutout shows Raiders how dominant they can be defensively


Quincy Notre Dame guard Jake Hoyt, right, pressures an inbounds pass during Friday night's game against Liberty at The Pit. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball coach Kevin Meyer could have waited another 35 seconds until the first quarter ended to address the issues he saw with how the Raiders were interacting defensively.

It wouldn’t have had the same impact.

So when Liberty coach Greg Altmix used a timeout with 34.8 seconds remaining in the opening stanza Friday night, Meyer took advantage of the moment to implore his crew to dig in defensively and quit letting the Eagles hang around.

The message was heard loud and clear.

The Raiders forced a turnover on the Eagles’ possession out of the timeout and a desperation 3-point heave on the final possession of the quarter, setting the stage for a dominant second quarter and a 66-37 victory at The Pit.

“Coach was kind of upset with us because we allowed 15 points in the first quarter,” said QND senior forward Jake Wallingford, who led the Raiders with 15 points. “So he kind of got on us about it. That really made us work that much harder in the second quarter.”

QND shut out Liberty in the second quarter and led 42-15 at halftime.

“It was no disrespect to Liberty. They were playing hard and doing stuff to be successful,” Meyer said. “But we had to question our guys. Are you just trading baskets and not really crawling in and defending like I think you can? We worked a couple different things in the second quarter, and we really did a good job of flying around.

“That quarter is what we want to continue to build on.”

The Raiders (18-8) have won six consecutive games with three to play before the postseason. They are the No. 2 seed in their Class 2A sub-sectional, will play host to a regional beginning Feb. 22, and are on the right trajectory to be a dangerous matchup.

Quincy Notre Dame forward Alex Connoyer soars to the basket for a layin during Friday night’s victory over Liberty at The Pit. | Matt Schuckman photo

“We’re going through our stuff every day, polishing it up and I think it’s showing out on the court,” Wallingford said.

And there’s still time to work on things.

“We have another whole week until we have to be at max peak or max prime,” said Meyer, who also got 13 points from Alex Connoyer and had 10 different players score. “We’ll continue to work on our rotations and our consistency. We’ll be able to work through things in some games, and we’ll have a few more practices to look at it as well.

“You don’t want to peak too early. We have high expectations. We kind of know our path. We just have to keep battling with that vision in mind.”

Facing a potential regional foe next Tuesday in the final home game of the regular season amps up the desire to showcase improvements, especially since West Hancock will come to the Pit with a 22-5 record.

“They’re a good team and will shoot the heck out of the ball,” Wallingford said. “We have to be ready, and that’s where our defense will show, too.” 

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