By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
The Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball team is still searching for 32 minutes of sustainable energy.
The Lady Raiders, ranked second in Class 3A, overcame a first-quarter lapse to beat Illini West 71-44 Thursday night at The Pit.
QND (6-0) didn't allow Illini West to cross midcourt on its first three possessions, and the Lady Raiders' full-court pressure fueled a 21-6 run to open the game. Finally, Illini West (2-6) found holes in QND's press and went on an 11-1 run to pull within 22-17 early in the second quarter.
Lady Raiders senior guard Kassidy Gengenbacher, who finished with 17 points, said their energy slipped.
"I think we lost our intensity, and sometimes we don't always play with consistent energy," Gengenbacher said. "We need to work on that. No matter how close the game is we need to play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I think for a little bit we lost that, and that's why our lead was cut so close."
Chargers point guard Graci Bastert started the run with two free throws to cut the lead to 21-8 with 1:29 left in the first quarter. Bastert then stole the ball and converted a three-point play. Two baskets from Shelbi White and a jumper from Bastert, who finished with a team-high 13 points, cut the lead to five points.
"I thought our guards did a good job of attacking and getting some easy buckets in transition," Illini West coach Grant Surprenant said. "We were trying to keep the ball out of (QND senior forward) Jordan Frericks' hands. She's very long and lengthy in the press. I thought once we ran the baseline a little bit and got the ball in the middle, that's when we were able to score and get easy baskets."
QND coach Eric Orne said putting teams away early is a focus.
"That's the thing we've been working on," Orne said. "We get that nice lead off the press and score off transition, but we're looking for more depth and stability on defense. We wanted to take that 15-point lead and make it a 25-point lead and we didn't do it. We let them back in the ball game, which isn't something we're accustomed to."
Mary Beth Hugenberg stopped the run with a basket that sparked a 21-5 Lady Raiders' run that extended their lead to 38-22 with 3:29 left before halftime. Frericks, who finished with 20 points and six rebounds, said the Lady Raiders started communicating better.
"I knew we needed to step up. We weren't communicating well on defense," Frericks said. "We needed to pick up our intensity a little bit. After the first quarter, we knew what we needed to do in the second quarter. We picked it up, communicated and worked together more, which is what helped us out."