By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Quincy Notre Dame's boys basketball team opened its season playing high-intensity defense.
For nearly eight minutes, the Raiders held Knox County scoreless during a 86-36 win Monday at The Pit in the Gully Transportation Tip-Off Tournament.
The Raiders (1-0) were aggressive defensively and forced the Eagles (0-1) to wilt under the pressure. QND built a 19-0 lead before Knox County's Royce Poore scored on a layup with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter. While defense was a concern among the players heading into the season, there was little cause for concern. The Raiders forced the Eagles to turn the ball over 33 times.
QND senior guard Sam Douglas wasn't surprised with the Raiders' effort.
"We played great. (They played) high-intensity, picked them up full-court and capitalized on their mistakes," Douglas said. "We brought the pressure in practice, picked people up and beat the heck out of each other all week and were happy to take it out on somebody else. Maybe too many fouls, but we'll adjust."
Knox County coach Zach Summers said the Eagles were intimidated.
"We weren't ready to play in this environment," Summers said. "I preached it for three weeks, what this environment is and what they're going to pressure us and do. We weren't ready for it and didn't handle it right away. We talked about taking a punch early, because QND was going to punch us early. That was a lot of punches we took early. It was too much. We made a good effort to close it down, but we could never get it in the single digits."
Offensively, Riley Walz (16), Douglas (12), Matt McPherson (12) and Nick Dietrich (10) scored in double digits for QND.
Knox County rallied in the second quarter, cutting the lead to 32-21 with 3:31 remaining on a three-point play by Poore, who finished with a team-high 12 points and 10 rebounds.
QND coach Scott Douglas said the Raiders were too aggressive at times.
"We were high-pressure," said Douglas, whose team hosts Kirksville at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. "I don't know that we were always smart, but we were high-pressure. I think (Knox County's) guys coming out the first night played into it. When they settled in, I thought they did a pretty good job. They have moments where they could handle the pressure well. I think we kind of didn't appreciate that. We kept trying to gamble and take things away, and they played smart and grinded back in it."
After trading baskets to open the second half, QND went on a 15-0 run to put the game out of reach. The run started when Drew Eaton scored on a jumper to push the Raiders ahead 45-28 early in the third quarter and ended in the fourth quarter on a basket by Alex Fitch that made the score 62-28.
Sam Douglas said the Raiders took fewer risks after halftime.
"After halftime, we went back to our fundamentals and denied the ball and played strong defense without gambling," he said. "We played strong defense until we could force them into being uncomfortable and we could get the ball back."
Nick Dietrich said the Raiders' defense did a good job forcing Knox County into miscues.
"We were putting good pressure on the ball and causing turnovers," Dietrich said.