By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
NORMAL, Ill. -- Quincy Notre Dame center Matt McPherson sent a shot by Bloomington Central Catholic's Matt Rave flying away from the basket.
Chris Dietrich then spotted up from behind the 3-point line and turned the blocked shot into points with 4 minutes, 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
QND senior forward Alex Fitch caused more havoc on the next possession, ripping the ball away from Parker Goodlick at halfcourt and converting it into a layup. Those plays highlighted an 11-0 third-quarter run that sparked the Raiders to a 74-47 win in the quarterfinals of the State Farm Holiday Classic Thursday night at Normal West High School.
QND (12-1) will play Minonk Fieldcrest in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Illinois Weselyan University's Shirk Center. The Knights advanced with a 46-33 win Thursday over Fairbury Prarie Central.
McPherson protecting the rim allowed the rest of the Raiders to be aggressive. QND forced 15 turnovers, including five in the third quarter.
"We got in the passing lane in the third quarter and made them uncomfortable," Fitch said. "When they did back cut or got a little penetration because we were too aggressive, McPherson did a good job of protecting the basket. ... He's a force down there even if he doesn't block a shot. At least he alters them."
The Raiders' focus in the second half was better perimeter defense. The Saints (7-4) were 3 of 8 from beyond the arc in the first half, and they cut the lead to 31-29 when Austin Holman scored to open the half.
Sam Douglas made a 3-pointer to push QND's lead to 34-29 with 6:50 left in the third quarter. Jake Hester responded with a layup that sliced the lead to 34-31. From that point on, the Raiders' defensive pressure smothered the Saints.
BCC shot 2 of 8 from the field in the third quarter and trailed 45-32 when Elliot Hoerdemann stopped the run with a free throw with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter. QND extended the lead to 53-35 by the end of the third quarter.
Dietrich, who finished with 16 points, said starting strong in the second half was vital.
"We just came out a little sluggish," Dietrich said. "We came out with more intensity, and we were more aggressive and had more confidence to get it done."
At the start of the game, BCC's offense couldn't keep up with QND's high-intensity defense. The Saints didn't score until Jake Reinhart made a jumper with 2:20 left in the first quarter to cut the lead to 6-2.
The Saints rallied to tie the game three times in the first half, but the Raiders never trailed.
Raiders coach Scott Douglas said that although QND did a good job early keeping Saints off the scoreboard, but the offense wasn't confident.
"The problem was it was only 6-0," Douglas said. "We should have been up 10, 12-0 at that point. I thought what happened (in the second quarter) was they got a couple of breakdown plays where they got wide-open looks at threes and they hit them."
Fitch finished with a game-high 23 points and is five short of 1,000 for his career.