SPRINGFIELD — On a night when getting off to a fast start was crucial, it didn't take long for the Mater Dei Knights to find themselves in trouble on Monday at the Class 3A Springfield Super-Sectional.
Undefeated Quincy Notre Dame jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first 28 seconds and never looked back as it thumped Mater Dei 56-30 before a good turnout on a cold winter's night at the University of Illinois at Springfield Sports Complex.
All-state guard Kassidy Gengenbacher scored 11 of her 18 points in the first quarter while the Lady Raiders other all-stater -- 6-foot-1 Missouri recruit Jordan Frericks -- led all scorers with 26 points as the Lady Raiders rolled into the state semifinals for the fourth straight year.
Notre Dame (28-0) is competing in Class 3A for the first time after winning the Class 2A state title the past two years.
"We didn't want this to be a 12-8 game. We wanted it to be an uptempo game and fortunately we got off to a good start,'' Lady Raiders coach Eric Orne said. "We knew Mater Dei would keep pushing and we just wanted to continue to work hard and get good shots. We've relied on our two all staters all year and they responded again tonight.''
The win is the 51st in a row for the Lady Raiders, who advance to the Class 3A State Tournament semifinals and will go against Morton at 2 p.m on Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal. Morton defeated Kankakee McNamara 66-40 on Monday at the Pontiac Super-Sectional.
Coming off an impressive win over Massac County in the title game of the Columbia Sectional, Mater Dei was in immediate trouble against the Lady Raiders. Frericks hit a 10-foot to open the game and Gengenbacher scored twice -- once on the Knights second turnover in the opening 28 seconds -- as Notre Dame jumped out to a 6-0.
Knights coach David Kohnen called a quick time out.
Emily Koelling put Mater Dei on the scoreboard with 5:12 left in the first quarter. But another Frericks basket followed by seven points from Gengenbacher put the Lady Raiders in firm control with a 15-4 lead.
Mater Dei committed eight of its 25 turnovers in the first quarter, which ended with Notre Dame up 15-6.
"Their pressure gave us trouble. But it does everybody. Ask (Breese) Central. Ask Nashville. It gave them trouble too,'' Kohnen said. "We knew we faced an uphill battle tonight. I just told the girls in the locker room that we probably lost to the state champions. They are very good basketball team.''
Frericks was very good in the second quarter, scoring 12 of her 16 first half points as the Lady Raiders lead grew to 31-12.
Gengenbacher and Frericks combined for 29 of Notre Dame's 31 points in the first two quarters.
Intent on making a comeback, Mater Dei scored the first five points of the second half when Danielle Timmermann opened with a 3-point basket and Jamie Voss tallied inside.
But just as quickly the Lady Raiders responded. A conventional 3-point play by Kristen Gengenbacher and baskets by Kassidy Foley, Frericks and Kassidy Gengenbacher put Notre Dame up 40-17 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Mater Dei committed three turnovers during the Notre Dame spurt.
"I thought we did a good job on them in the halfcourt defense,'' Kohnen said."It's just that we gave them so many transition baskets off turnovers.
"It's tough way to end the season. But I told the girls I was proud of their effort all year. There are a lot of teams who would have loved to be where are tonight. We made it to the 'elite eight.' That's something to be proud of.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org