Blue Devils claim share of second in WB6

Special to the Herald-Whig
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ROCK ISLAND — Coming into this boys’ basketball season, the finish of the Quincy High School Blue Devils proved tough to predict. In the preseason media poll, the team was picked to finish fifth in the Western Big 6 Conference.

With a 56-36 win over Alleman at Don Morris Gym, Quincy (16-9, 7-3 WB6) earned a share of second place in the conference.

“We saw on Twitter before the season that they had us projected to finish fifth,” said Quincy’s Jake Jobe. “We talked about it as a team, and we thought it was nice to come out and prove what we could do on the basketball court.”

With the win over the Pioneers (4-22, 0-10 WB6), Quincy capped a perfect conference road record.

“It’s a lot of momentum we have going into the regional games,” Quincy’s Parker Bland said. “It was humongous to do this down the stretch.”

The Blue Devils started out sharply, connecting on their first seven shots, running out to a 17-2 lead in the first five minutes. It was the second straight week that the Pioneers allowed their opponents to make their first seven attempts.

“It’s always nice to see rhythm shots go down,” said Jobe, who made four 3-pointers and scored 14 points, “and to see all of those shots in a row fall is huge.”

The first half featured a battle on the inside between Bland and Alleman’s Luke Saskowski. At intermission, Bland had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Saskowski had 12 and three.

“He’s a great player. Kudos to him on what he was able to do underneath,” said Bland, who finished the game with 16 points and 13 rebounds. “I just tried to match him because that’s what we needed to do to come out victorious.”

The Blue Devils were good from behind the arc, connecting on 7-of-16 attempts. Quincy sank 10-of-20 shots from inside the arc.

“We know we can shoot from ball from the outside. Our percentage (this season) from the outside is actually better than from inside,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, who earned his 100th career win. “We know our outside game is there, but we had to develop our inside game. I thought Parker Bland gave us that inside presence. Rather that was posting up or getting offensive glass. He did a good job of being active and aggressive.”

The Blue Devils open postseason play 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Edwardsville.

“Edwardsville is a really talented team,” Bland said. “We are going to have to play well.”

The winless conference season marks the second consecutive year without a conference victory for the Pioneers.

“I’m disappointed for our guys because of the effort that they put in,” Alleman coach Pat Rangel said. “Yeah, we are 0-10. There are a lot of different ways to look at it. We love the conference that we are in, but when you put us against these schools, it’s kind of hard to combat it. We welcome the challenge. We will turn it around. It won’t be too long before we start winning some games.”

Alleman will play Rock Falls on Monday in the Sterling Regional.

“The kids are keeping their heads up. We are telling them, as cliche as it might sound, it’s a new season,” Rangel said. “We practice (today), we practice Sunday. We play a team that we played here and let slip away, a team we do match up well with.”