Seniors help guide Raiders’ rally against Farmers, enable QND boys to capture pair of victories

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The doubleheader sweep the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team needed to set up an epic Monday matinee was in jeopardy from the start late Saturday afternoon.

By the end, though, the Raiders had found a way to survive.

Alex Connoyer’s putback of a missed free throw with 32 seconds remaining in regulation gave the Raiders their first lead the entire game, and they made four consecutive free throws to finish off a 63-58 victory over Farmington in the MLK Shootout at Bloomington Central Catholic’s Cvengros Gym.

“That’s a big rebound,” QND coach Kevin Meyer said of Connoyer’s offensive board. “Puts us up for the first time the whole game, and from there I just felt like a weight was lifted off our shoulders. Let’s go play and finish this thing off.”

Coupling the victory over the Farmers with a 53-40 victory over Champaign Central to begin the day, QND (13-6) gets the chance to carry some momentum into its matchup with Bloomington Central Catholic at 2:30 p.m. Monday.

The Saints (13-6) beat the Raiders for a Class 2A sectional championship last season.

BCC beat Farmington 91-56 in Saturday’s first game and will face Champaign Central at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The Raiders’ senior leadership and depth, which guided them to the victory over Farmington, should continue to be key.

Following Connoyer’s putback, QND senior guard Charlie Lavery forced a turnover, which led to senior guard Jake Hoyt and Lavery each knocking down two free throws to seal the victory.

Connoyer led QND with 23 points, including going 9 of 9 from the free-throw line. Hoyt contributed 16 points, and Meyer thought the leadership from his point guard was critical in both victories.

“That’s what you want from a senior leader,” Meyer said. “The guy’s been a four-year starter. He puts the guys in the right spots and they’re all gonna follow him. That’s what’s really cool about this group right now is things are clicking.”

And Meyer feels his group is creating an identity.

“Our defense is our identity,” Meyer said. “Let the defense create some offense for you. Let’s get out in transition a little bit. That’s what I’ve always envisioned for this group. Being a defensive team that can go out and score.”

The day began with an adjustment as Meyer altered his starting lineup, putting junior forward Aiden Klauser in and bringing senior forward Josh Bocke off the bench. Both responded well as Klauser led the Raiders with 13 points against Champaign Central and Bocke added 12.

“You make a change like that, and you hope that they can accept it,” Meyer said. “But also go out and fight, and I thought they did a wonderful job today.”

It took fight to survive the nightcap.

Farmington raced out to a 21-6 lead in the first quarter and carried a 36-27 advantage to halftime. At that point, Meyer’s message at halftime was pretty simple.

“We just had to battle and battle and battle,” Meyer said.. “We’re sitting here right now at halftime down nine, three possessions. Let’s go out and create a couple of stops. And we did that in the third quarter.”

The Raiders chiseled the deficit to six points in the third quarter and got within 51-49 in the fourth quarter on a Jackson Stratton layup with 5:30 to play. The Farmers pushed the advantage back to six points, but a Hoyt 3-pointer and Connoyer’s basket with a minute to play got the Raiders within 58-57.

Connoyer’s next play put QND ahead for good.

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