By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS -- Kristen Gengenbacher sensed the Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball needed a momentum changer.
A wayward pass that skidded through the lane, just out of the reach of the Lady Raiders' Jordan Frericks, and landed at Gengenbacher's feet did the trick.
The junior point guard scooped the ball up, took a step to the left and drained a 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that turned the tide Thursday at the Scottrade Center.
Kassidy Gengenbacher followed with a 3-pointer 39 seconds later that shattered Nashville's confidence. A turnover by the Hornettes on the ensuing possession did more damage as Frericks capped a 9-0 run with a three-point play that propelled the Lady Raiders to a 41-36 win at the fourth annual Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout.
"I knew going into the game they were going to try to lock up on Kassidy (Gengenbacher) and Jordan because they are our two main scorers," Kristen Gengenbacher said. "I knew we had to get something going and get the action moving. I just tried what we do in practice and it worked out."
The Lady Raiders, who are 19-0 and ranked No. 3 in Class 3A, scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to win its 69th consecutive game against Illinois teams. Nashville, which is 26-2 and ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, dictated the tempo in the first half.
Spreading the floor allowed the Hornettes to limit possessions and keep the game deadlocked at 17.
"Nashville is well-coached and their system makes your play at a different tempo," QND coach Eric Orne said. "I thought there for a while, that when we got the lead, we could get a couple more breaks going and we didn't. Nashville takes that five-point lead, and we got some defensive stops finally.
"Kristen and Kassidy on back-to-back possessions make 3-point plays that really changed the game. We got the stop after that and got the three-point lead, which we were dying to do. It came down to us sticking to with our defensive plan and knocking down some shots."
Pressure changed the game. On four consecutive possessions to open the second half, QND forced turnovers.
"We knew we were going to have some," Nashville coach Wayne Harre said. "We did OK early, but then your legs start going and then your mind starts going. It makes a difference with the wear and tear, and you have to be in great conditioning. They keep coming and coming and coming."
Even though the Lady Raiders' defense was driving Nashville nuts, QND only capitalized on one of those four turnovers. On offense, the Lady Raiders couldn't figure out how to speed up the game.
Kassidy Gengenbacher, who finished with nine points, said maintaining the pressure was important, even if it didn't result in points immediately.
"Defense is the key to our game, and even if we're not scoring off every defensive stop we get, we're still making them turn the ball over and they are getting flustered," she said. "That gives us confidence and the next play we have confidence on defense and our offense will come. It's not always going to be hot, but it will come as the game flows on I think."
Shaye Harre kept Nashville ahead with her toughness inside, finishing with 16 points and 14 rebounds. As a team, the Hornettes outrebounded the Lady Raiders 30-19.
Nashville led 28-23 when Frericks, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, started the run with a hustle play. Chasing down a loose ball, Frericks tossed the ball off a Hornettes player, setting up Kristen Gengenbacher's 3-pointer that cut the lead to 28-26. Kassidy Gengebacher and Frericks then scored to push the lead to 32-28 with 3:28 remaining.
Kristen Gengenbacher, who finished with a game-high 17 points, said the Lady Raiders finally pushed the pace in the fourth quarter.
"It's like the extremes playing each other," she said. "They play a slow game and we're known to play a quick game. We had to keep our confidence up, keep working hard, and any time we could get an outlet pass, we had to do it. Everybody had to sprint down the court, get fresh legs and try to keep the intensity, and that's what we did."