By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — The Edwardsville boys basketball coaching staff decided to test Quincy High School’s lesser known shooters, specifically sagging off Collin Tenhouse each time the senior forward caught the ball 15 or more feet from the basket.
So when Tenhouse checked out of the lineup 31/2 minutes into Saturday’s fifth-place game of the 34th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic, the Tigers were forced to make a decision.
Loosely guard a different player on the perimeter to provide protection in the lane or play the Blue Devils straight up?
Edwardsville made the wrong choice.
Quincy junior guard Jirehl Brock, with Edwardsville’s RJ Wilson dropping off each time he caught the ball outside, made three uncontested 3-pointers, scored a career-high 21 points and also caused an equal amount of havoc defensively in the Blue Devils’ 69-58 victory at Vergil Fletcher Gym.
“They put a guy who wasn’t really comfortable playing out on the perimeter on us, and we kind of made them pay,” Brock said.
The Tigers paid dearly.
Brock drilled his first 3-pointer 11 seconds after Tenhouse checked out, kickstarting a 12-4 run to end the first quarter. He hit two more 3-pointers in the third quarter and then offered up his signature move — a steal at the top of 1-2-2 zone press that he converts into a breakaway dunk — late in the frame.
It was the start of a 19-6 surge that gave Quincy a 21-point lead with 4:16 remaining in regulation.
“They made a lot of perimeter shots we weren’t counting on,” Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo said.
The Blue Devils (11-3) also forced five turnovers during the first-half scoring splurge and four more during the second-half stretch. Overall, the Tigers committed 18 turnovers as the Blue Devils stayed active defensively the entire 32 minutes.
“A lot of that comes from the fact that’s Edwardsville,” Quincy point guard Aaron Shoot said. “Everybody kind of knows the history between Quincy and Edwardsville. We knew this could be one of the years we could get them. That motivated us a lot to intensify our defense.”
Quincy turned two of Edwardsville’s first three turnovers into points in building an 11-4 lead before Waldo called timeout with 3:44 to go in the first quarter.
The Blue Devils scored 17 points off turnovers overall and 10 points in transition.
“We had something to fight for, and it’s right in front of you,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “It’s one thing to say we’re fighting for a trophy game one, but when it comes down to it at the end, is it the trophy we wanted from the start? No, but it is what was right in front of us.
“I thought our guys did a really good job of focusing in on that and doing things offensively and defensively that we needed.”
In the second half, that meant taking better shots.
After shooting 37.9 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from 3-point range in the first half, Quincy went 14 of 21 from the field (66.7 percent) and 7 of 12 from 3-point range (58.3) percent in the second half.
“With anybody, you see one go in, then you see another one go in and people start finding you in rhythm,” Brock said.
The ball movement and unselfishness made getting good looks easier. Quincy committed just six turnovers — three in each half — and had 13 assists, seven coming from Shoot. He and Jaeden Smith each finished with 12 points.
Jack Marinko led Edwardsville (9-3) with 21 points, but he went 3 of 9 from 3-point range and committed nine turnovers against a Quincy team that produced its most complete effort of the tournament.
“It was just the fifth-place game, but it was more than that,” Brock said. “Edwardsville is in our sectional and last year they got the first seed. We just know how good of a program they have and the fact it would be a really good thing to get a win against them.”