SuperFan Shootout: Stratton fuels Raiders’ stretch drive, spearheads fourth-quarter rally
QUINCY — The analogy offered by Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball coach Kevin Meyer was spot on.
“In NASCAR terms, it was a splash and go,” Meyer said.
Meyer was recounting the fourth-quarter contribution of 6-foot-1 guard Jackson Stratton, who scored 18 of his 23 points over the final eight minutes — including 14 at the free-throw line — to help seal QND’s 68-65 victory Friday night against Northeast Cairo (Mo.) in the SuperFan Shootout at The Pit.
Stratton triggered a 30-point final period for the Raiders (14-7) while also serving as one of his club’s chief ballhandlers. Midway through the fourth quarter, Meyer removed Stratton from the game, providing the workhorse junior just enough time to catch his breath before re-entering for the stretch run.
Stratton responded to the “pit stop” by eventually helping the Raiders pull away in the final minute. Stratton connected on six straight foul shots in the closing 35 seconds to cement Notre Dame’s seventh win in its last eight starts and drop Cairo to 15-5. The lone QND loss in its last eight games was to St. Louis Confluence Prep Academy 66-65.
The Raiders resume play at 8 p.m. Saturday against Jacksonville Routt (19-5) in the final game of the Shootout. Routt is ranked ninth in Class 1A.
Ironically, Stratton, who finished 14 of 15 at the line, struggled at the foul line earlier in the season. Meyer said he has turned his offensive game around in the second half of the schedule.
“It’s a mindset,” Meyer said. “He’s been shooting much better, and he wants the ball (in critical situations).”
Stratton’s individual outburst in the second half accented Notre Dame’s team performance. The Raiders scored 49 points across the third and fourth quarters after being frustrated offensively in much of the first half when Cairo systematically built what seemed to be a comfortable 29-19 cushion by intermission. The Bearcats led 45-38 after three quarters.
“We challenged our kids (in all aspects of the game) at halftime — and they responded,” Meyer said.
Jake Wallingford (13) and Braden Sheffield (11) were the other double-figure scorers for QND. Wallingford also led the Riders with five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
“Notre Dame was more physical than we were, and I give them a ton of credit,” Cairo coach Nic Zenker said. “Notre Dame made the big shots when they needed to. I tip my hat to QND.”
Zenker loved the atmosphere of playing in the Shootout.
“We like to schedule games like this, and play in places like The Pit,” he said. “Games like this get us ready for (the postseason).”
Cairo’s Gage Wilson, a 6-8 senior, finished with 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, but was limited to four points — all in the third quarter — in the second half. Meyer said the ability to control Wilson in the second half was a major plus.
“Wallingford, (Calvin) Lavery and (Josh) Bocke did a good job pushing Wilson off the block,” Meyer said.
Cairo’s Logan Head finished as the game’s top scorer with 25 points, getting 16 in the second half.
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