Sweet Sixteen: Pieper turns in 19-point performance on birthday as QND girls edge Clopton


Quincy Notre Dame's Tristan Pieper looks to shoot over Clopton's Ashlyn Noah during Friday night's high school girls basketball game at the KHQA Superfan Shootout in the Pit. | David Adam

QUINCY — There are not many better ways for a 16-year-old to celebrate her birthday than to spend it with her friends.

Tristan Pieper’s friends took care of her Friday night. 

Pieper, a sophomore, led all scorers with 19 points as the Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball team fought off Clopton 44-37 at the American Family Insurance-KHQA Superfan Shootout at the Pit.

“My teammates did an amazing job getting me the ball and finding me when I was open to put me in a good position to score,” Pieper said.

The Raiders trailed 6-5 with 4:58 to go in the first quarter when QND Coach Eric Orne used a timeout.

“We just weren’t executing like I knew we could,” he said. “I just wanted to settle them down into some good sets. Then from there, we kind of took off.”

After giving up a Clopton basket, the Raiders scored the final nine points of the quarter to lead 14-8.

Quincy Notre Dame ramped up the defensive pressure in the second quarter,  forcing seven Hawks turnovers to push the halftime lead to 27-16.

The Raiders opened the second half by scoring on their first two possessions to push the lead to 32-16. Clopton eventually cut the lead to 38-29 at the third-quarter buzzer on a 3-pointer by freshman Charleigh Spoonster.

“That’s where the game almost got away from us,” Orne said. “They started knocking down some shots because we weren’t going out and defending them. We kind of lost them in transition at times.”

Eight straight points, capped off by two 3-pointers, pulled the Hawks within 40-37 with 6:40 to play in the game.  A driving layup by Raider guard Ari Buehler broke Clopton’s momentum, and QND held on for the six-point victory.

Junior Sage Stratton and sophomore Jenna Durst each chipped in nine points for the Raiders (24-4), who face defending Class 1A state champion Okawville (17-9) on Saturday night at the Pit. Clopton falls to 15-6. 

But Friday night belonged to Pieper, the birthday girl.

“We knew that they didn’t have a lot of big girls,” Pieper said. “We needed to get a lot of paint touches. That would lead to a lot of open shots.”

She received her driver’s license and a shiny, humongous trophy as the game’s most valuable player. What will the 16-year-old remember the most about her birthday?

“Definitely the victory,” Pieper said with a smile. “Nice having that good team win before playing a good team Saturday night.”

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