Beyond the Boxscore: Quincy celebrates senior night in moving ways

By: Matt Shuckman of the Quincy Herald Whig

Posted: Feb. 19, 2016 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 20, 2016 4:35 am

This wasn’t a typical senior night celebration for the Quincy High School boys basketball team.

Aside from the traditional honoring of the seniors and their parents, QHS mascot Nathan Mosley — the senior has served as the Blue Devil for the pregame ceremony all season — played the national anthem on his electric guitar.

There also was a moment of silence with three single-stem white roses placed under a spotlight at midcourt as the school honored three students who lost their lives this school year, including Evan Busbey, who passed away this week.

“We had heavy hearts with all the tragedy,” senior point guard Mike Dade said.

On top of that, Blue Devil Gym was as packed as it has been all season with state-ranked Galesburg making the trip south for Quincy’s final home game of the 2015-16 season. The Blue Devils pulled off a 45-43 victory, finishing the regular season with a 12-0 home record and handing the Silver Streaks their first Western Big Six Conference loss.

Afterward, the seniors and their parents and friends held onto the accomplishment as long as they could, snapping pictures and lingering around Blue Devil Gym.

“It’s unbelievable right now,” senior guard Jake Jobe said. “I’m going through all my emotions right now.”

Maybe the most overlooked emotion was appreciation for the way the Blue Devils banded together to get the job done.

“In my four years here, I don’t think I’ve seen more of a complete team win,” Jobe said.

Still something to play for

The victory keeps Quincy in the WB6 title chase.

Galesburg already wrapped up at least a share of the title — its first since 1998 and the program’s fifth overall — but needs to beat Rock Island at home next Friday night to finish 9-1 and win the title outright. If the Rocks can pull off the upset, Quincy will need to beat Moline at Wharton Field House to finish 8-2 and share the crown.

It’s going to ensure the Blue Devils head into the final week of the regular season with purpose.

“You can go one of two ways,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “You can say this game means nothing if we don’t finish off Moline at Moline. Or you can take it for what it is and that’s a huge win against a team that was undefeated in the conference play and had a lot riding on the game. We did as well.

“That’s a big part of this one. You can’t there’s no pressure on us when it’s our home court, we’re undefeated here and it’s senior night. Our guys handled that and came out and executed our game plan extremely well.”

Clamping down on Meeker

Ethan Meeker will go down as one of the grittiest and toughest players in the Western Big Six Conference.

His defense against Jobe is proof of that.

Jobe, who came into the game with 56 3-pointers made this season and a single-game school record 10 treys against Lincoln at the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic, only attempted two 3-pointers and didn’t take a shot outside of 5 feet after the first quarter. He simply couldn’t shake Meeker.

“I knew they were going to pressure me,” Jobe said. “I knew there weren’t going to be many open looks.”

Meeker could say the same thing after the pressure Quincy’s backcourt put on him.

The foursome of Jobe, Mike Dade, Cameron Gay and Aaron Shoot efficiently and effectively extended Quincy’s 1-2-2 zone defense to take away Galesburg’s solid perimeter game. Meeker came into the game leading the WB6 with 65 3-pointers and teamed up with senior guard Jarret Olson to have made a combined 122 treys, but they combined to go 4 of 14 from 3-point range as the Silver Streaks were 5 of 19 overall from the perimeter.

“We lost our poise offensively, settling for 3-point shots instead of taking the ball to the rim,” Galesburg coach Mike

Reynolds said.

It didn’t start that way.

Galesburg bolted to a 6-2 lead out of the gate as Meeker drained back-to-back 3-pointers. However, the Silver Streaks didn’t make another 3-pointer the remainder of the first half. Meeker made his final 3-pointer 2:53 into the second half, and Galesburg missed seven consecutive 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter.

Meeker finished with 12 points, five below his season average.

“We out-toughed them tonight,” Douglas said. “And it was special.”

Smith provides key baskets

Quincy junior forward Deven Smith didn’t get off the bench until the second half, but he made his presence felt in the fourth quarter.

Smith scored the Blue Devils’ first two baskets of the fourth quarter, allowing them to maintain the lead and eventually push the advantage to 41-35. With the five seniors in the starting lineup, Douglas altered his rotations and wound up getting 18 points and 12 rebounds from his bench.

Postseason path is clear

The Blue Devils learned Thursday they had received the No. 2 seed behind top-seeded Edwardsville in the one of the sub-sectionals of the Class 4A Collinsville Sectional. Friday, they figured out where their postseason path is going to wind.

Quincy is headed to the Alton Regional and will play either Granite City or Collinsville in the semifinals at 7 p.m. March 1. Should the Blue Devils advanced, they will face either Alton or Chatham Glenwood in the regional championship March 4.

The winner of the Alton Regional will face the winner of the East St. Louis Regional, where Edwardsville is the top seed, in the sectional semifinals at Collinsville on March 8. The sectional championship is scheduled for March 11, the super-sectional will be played at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena on March 15.