BETHALTO — A rare Friday night girls' basketball game produced a fruitful ending for the Civic Memorial Eagles in Bethalto, as they knocked off powerful Quincy Notre Dame, 50-45.
With the win the Eagles improved to 11-6 on the season, while the Raiders dipped to 10-2.
Early in the season CM was struggling at closing out games. That wasn't the case Friday, as the Eagles outscored QND 11-4 in the fourth quarter and erased a 41-39 deficit after three frames.
“Losing the games early in the season like we did, six of them by 23 points combined, drove me nuts and it didn't sit well with the girls,” CM head coach Jonathan Denney said. “We were wanting to have a better record coming into the next five or six games we're getting ready to play, but we are who we are and I think maybe we learned something early in the season by not finishing some games when we had leads and I think that showed tonight. Quincy Notre Dame executed great I thought in the last part of the third quarter and the first part of the fourth quarter and showed why they are perennially one of the best teams in the state. In the back of my mind I was like, 'Here we go again.' But our girls buckled down and started executing and finally getting some rebounds and hit some big shots.”
Senior Katelyn Turbyfill may have had the biggest shot.
The Raiders used an 11-0 run that turned a 39-34 deficit at the 2:57 mark of the third quarter into a 45-39 edge with 4:40 to go in the game. Allie Troeckler then completed a traditional 3-point play to cut it to 45-42 and Turbyfill drained a 3-pointer with 3:51 to play to knot it at 45-45.
Those plays sparked an 8-0 spree for the Eagles to close out the game and the win.
“We had been struggling making shots and when I hit the three I felt pretty good,” said Turbyfill, who finished with 9 points. “I knew we still had a lot of work left to do, but I knew that was a good start.”
It helped CM that QND went frigid from the field. The Raiders shot just 2 of 14 in the fourth quarter and even missed an open 3-pointer in the final minute for a chance to tie.
“That's what we talked about, the whole game boils down to two or three missed layups in the second half, especially the fourth quarter,” QND assistant Mark Longo said. Longo was filling in for head coach Eric Orne who was serving a one-game suspension after getting ejected from the Raiders' previous contest. “That 3-pointer looked like it went all the way down and came out and you've got to put those baskets in to beat a good team on their floor.”
Troeckler was key for the Eagles in the first half. Her bucket at the buzzer in the first quarter drew CM even with the Raiders at 17-17. She then scored two big baskets in transition to close the second quarter, sending the Eagles into the locker room with a 31-27 advantage. She finished the first half with 17 of her game-high 26 points.
“I was still a little frustrated from my game yesterday (with Mascoutah) so that definitely pushed me to do a little more this game and get this win for the team, knowing how much this game meant for us,” Troeckler said.
Denney said Troeckler is dangerous in transition with her explosiveness and thought that was something QND definitely wanted to stay away from in the game.
“I think if you talk to a lot of coaches, especially teams in our conference, they don't want her to get out in transition and I think she showed in the first half tonight why,” Denney said.
Longo thought the real matchup issue for the Raiders came from CM's 6-foot-3 senior Kalyn Troxell. Troxell netted 9 points in the game, 7 of them coming in the second half.
“(Troeckler) is a player, she's an athlete and she did a lot of great things. She hurt us, but probably what hurt us more was our lack of height when (Troxell) got going,” Longo said. “She hit a couple jumpers and when you don't have the height you can't stop that.”
Denney thinks the Eagles have improved in part due to the play of Turbyfill and Troxell. As they've heated up as complementary pieces to Troeckler, so has CM as a unit.
“Those two seniors struggled early in the season, Kalyn Troxell and Katelyn Turbyfill,” Denney said. “Kalyn made a couple of nice plays down the stretch and Turbyfill hit the big three. Getting production from those kids that weren't with us early in the season, kind of hit and miss, and when they were it was like they weren't there, but now it looks like they are settling in and realizing, 'I've only got half my senior year left, so I need to kick into gear a little bit.' I thought both of them played really well tonight.”
It's a big confidence booster for the Eagles. They need it with two major games on the docket next week. They go to Highland on Thursday for a huge Mississippi Valley Conference showdown and then battle Parkway North in the inaugural Atrium Great Rivers Shootout at Alton High on Saturday.
“We've been up and down and we're hoping that after this win right here it's a confidence boost and we can just keep going further and further,” Turbyfill said.
CM 50, QND 45
Raiders 17 10 14 4 — 45
Eagles 17 14 8 11 — 50
CM (11-6) — Allie Troeckler 26, Kaylee Eaton 2, Alaira Tyus 3, Katelyn Turbyfill 9, Kalyn Troxell 9, Izzy Buckley 1. 2FG — 18 3FG — 2 FT — 8 PF — 12.
QND (10-2) — McKenzie Foley 11, Olivia Hyer 16, Sarah Arnold 2, Ericka Obert 4, Shelby Connell 6,
Molly Penn 2, Mackenzie Doane 4. 2FG — 16 3FG — 3 FT — 4 PF — 16.