Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball coach Eric Orne will be at Thursday's West Central Conference game against Macomb in the Pit, but he'll be thinking about another game as well that night.
The Quincy Catholic eighth grade girls team will be playing for the Class 3A state championship in the Illinois Elementary School Association tournament on Thursday night in Germantown Hills, just north of Peoria.
Orne has coached the Crusaders (22-0) for most of the season, but he didn't go to Saturday's quarterfinal and semifinal games. He stayed back to coach QND in its home game against Bethalto Civic Memorial.
"It was hard not to go, but I didn't went (the team) to think I was going to come back," Orne said. "I wanted them to worry about the Germantown Hills team (which Quincy Catholic lost to in last year's seventh-grade state tournament) rather than whether I was going to walk through the door at the last minute.
"That's a special group of kids. I'm excited for them. It's the chance of the lifetime."
Orne has continued to practice with the eighth graders this week, but he will stay back for the game at Macomb while assistant coach Lucas Frageman guides the Crusaders against Deer Creek-Mackinaw for the title.
"It's tiring, but it's feeding me too at the same time," Orne said. "The girls' excitement is feeding me. Right now, we're just going one day at a time to make sure everything gets organized."
The Palmyra girls basketball team went through some ups and downs in a 16-11 season last year, but that's to be expected with a sophomore-dominated squad.
Panthers coach Chris Parsons thought this year might be a little smoother, but Tuesday night's loss showed there's still work to do.
The Panthers turned the ball over 25 times and made just 13 of 37 shots on Tuesday night against Quincy Notre Dame in a 46-40 loss. Two of the Raiders' top players, Sydney Hummert and Madison L. Meyer, spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble, but Palmyra couldn't hold on to an 11-point third-quarter lead.
"I'm trying to get through this group's head is that our offense is continuous, but we're running through it one time and throwing up a shot," Parsons said. "We can throw up those outside shots any time we want, and we're not giving our inside players any looks.
"We were lucky that their two best players were on the bench for a lot of the game. We didn't take advantage of that, and those things come back to haunt you. We've got the athletes, we've got the players, but we have to go out and take care of business. We need that killer instinct.
"Once we get that edge, we're going to be hard to beat."