By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
QUINCY — Logan Brunenn spent most of his fall serving as one of the ringleaders for the Quincy High School student cheering section at Flinn Stadium.
His soccer-playing buddies returned the favor Saturday night inside Blue Devil Gym.
Brunenn, a senior reserve on the QHS boys basketball team, saw the first extended playing time of his varsity career and responded with eight points in a 70-30 victory over Chicago Sullivan that cemented the Blue Devils’ undefeated run to the title of the 46th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament.
The student section began chanting Brunenn’s name on both of his 3-pointers.
“They have my back,” Brunenn said. “There are no other fans I’d rather play in front of.”
Brunenn wasn’t the only one to take advantage of the opportunity. QHS coach Andy Douglas didn’t play the top seven players in his rotation a single minute of the second half after they established a 50-3 lead at halftime.
Chicago Sullivan, which allowed 102 points against Urbana on Thursday night and 98 against Chicago Carver on Friday, trailed 26-0 at the end of the first quarter and 37-0 before scoring 10 minutes, 59 seconds into the game.
Junior guard Jumar Woodlawn completed a three-point play off a drive down the left side of the lane for the Tigers’ only basket of the half. Sullivan turned the ball over on 16 of its first 22 possessions and went 1 of 13 from the field in the first half.
“You really don’t know what to say to your team at halftime,” Douglas said. “At least I don’t know what to say. I told them we were focused how I wanted them to be and how they expected themselves to be from the get-go. They weren’t flashy or anything like that. They did it the right way.”
So did the reserves. Seven players shared the final 16 minutes.
“They played hard and didn’t let up in that regard,” Dougals said. “They were unselfish and got each other the ball and tried to get everybody a shot and a bucket.”
They nearly accomplished that.
Brunenn and senior forwards Zack Aschemann and Garrett Scott all ended up in the scoring column. Jacob Ary scored his first varsity field goal and finished with 10 points, joining teammate Parker Bland as the only players in double figures. Bland led the Blue Devils with 16 points on 8-of-8 shooting.
“I’m only a junior,” Ary said. “So the more experience, the better.”
Producing while playing extended minutes could lead to more minutes later in the season.
“We had to make sure we improved and not do any bad things,” Ary said. “We have to show Coach we can be trusted.”
Douglas sent a strong message that he trusted their judgment and integrity by never telling the Blue Devils to take their foot off the pedal.
“A lot of the time, he’s just saying, ‘Play the game. Don’t take it too far,'” Brunenn said. “It wasn’t a close score, but you have to respect the other team.”
You must take advantage of the opportunity as well.
“The starters were encouraging us and telling us that now is our time to shine,” Brunenn said. “It gives us the chance to help get others involved. It’s special.”