By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — Kassidy Gengenbacher and the Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball team wanted to make a statement.
Bumping up to Class 3A was supposed to present the two-time defending Class 2A state champion Lady Raiders with a tougher road to state. But once QND turned up the pressure there was little Springfield Southeast, which was ranked No. 8 in Class 3A, could do to stop the Lady Raiders as they rolled to a 90-64 in championship game of the Class 3A Jacksonville Regional Thursday night.
QND won both of its regional games by a combined 85 points. The Lady Raiders thrashed Jacksonville 85-26 Tuesday.
"We knew it was going to be a grinder, but I don't think we came into this game wanting to win by eight or 10," said Gengenbacher, who finished with a game-high 27 points. "We wanted to beat them and show people what we're really about. We're not going to come here and just get by. We're going to come here, do things right and take it to teams."
The Lady Raiders, who are 25-0 and ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, extended their winning streak to 48 games and marked their fourth consecutive regional title. QND will play Chatham Glenwood, which won the Rochester Regional by beating Rochester 47-39 Thursday, in the Mt. Zion sectional semifinal Monday.
The Lady Raiders beat Chatham Glennwood 49-38 on the road Jan. 15.
QND needed just 15 seconds to prove it was on its way to the sectional.
Jordan Frericks pushed the opening tip to Kristen Gengenbacher, who found Kassidy wide-open in the corner for a 3-pointer. Following a quick turnover, Frericks found Kassidy for a layup. QND never trailed and led by as many as 40 points in the third quarter.
Southeast (25-5) struggled to keep track of the ball. The Spartans turned the ball over 21 times, including eight times in the first quarter.
"It wasn't their pressure. It was our inability to conduct ourselves with control," Southeast coach Sandi Devoe said. "Day in and day out, we see that type of pressure. They just go into the feel of the game and let it get away from them."
QND opened on an 8-2 run and pushed the lead to 32-12 by the end of the first quarter. The Lady Raiders attacked relentlessly in transition in the first half and shared the ball on offense, finishing with 23 assists.
Kassidy Gengenbacher, Mary Beth Hugenberg (22 points), Jordan Frericks (21 points) and Kristen Gengenbacher (10) all finished in double figures.
"I think we try to attack all aspects of the game," QND coach Eric Orne said. "When you get the tip, and you get set up and Kass drills the three, I just think it sets the tone. ... We just do what we do. We ball hawk, try to attack the basket and set the tone. A lot of times that gives us the space we need to settle down."
Defensively, Lady Raiders junior guard Cassidy Foley hounded the Spartans' leading scorer Justice Collins. Foley had to work hard, hitting the floor several times and one time she nearly got sent into the first row of the bleachers. Collins finished with a team-high 22 points, but scored 14 of those in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
"It hurt a little bit, I'll be icing tomorrow, but I'm OK," Foley said. "She was definitely fast. She was a great ballhander, likes to drive and she is strong. Everyone had to play defense on her and have help side and we did a great job of that."
In the second quarter, QND continued to push the tempo and took a 57-26 lead into the half.
Kassidy Gengenbacher doesn't expect too many more results like this for QND.
"It's always fun to have a grinder and beat a team by not too many," she said. "We know we're not going to blow out every team by this much. Going into the game, we always talk about if we're up by 20 or 30, we play like it's tied. Whether we're up by 10 or 20, we're going to have the momentum or energy we have like we're losing a game."