By MARC NESSELER
Special to The Herald-Whig
ROCK ISLAND – Alleman coach Kyle Murray figured that Quincy High School would come out fired out for Friday night’s boys’ basketball matchup at Don Morris Gymnasium.
However, he couldn’t have fathomed that the Devils would have THAT kind of start.
Quincy scored the first 18 points and Alleman didn’t score until 100 seconds were left in the first quarter as the Blue Devils cruised in their second week of Western Big Six road tests, winning 66-50.
“Let’s face facts. We knew Quincy would come out fired up, especially after last year’s upset (by the Pioneers at Morris Gym),” Murray said. “Plus they had their best guard (Aaron Shoot) back, so that’s going to give them confidence, and they way they shot gave them even more confidence. It just snowballed.”
Throw in the fact that Quincy suffered its worst WB6 loss ever last week against Wharton Field House against Moline and, yeah, the Blue Devils (4-2, 1-1 WB6) were highly motivated.
Quincy coach Andy Douglas, though, said there was even more to that stunning – and Morris Gym silencing – start.
“I think it was the energy here. It’s a very unique atmosphere,” he said. “This is a special place where their fans generate a lot of energy, and our guys created their own energy.”
Quincy hit nine of its 10 first-quarter shots in building a 21-4 lead. That carried over into the second quarter as well, as the Blue Devils finished the half with a 15-of-22 showing. One of those misses came at the halftime horn by Jirehl Brock, only his second miss of that half. He finished with team highs of 16 points and five rebounds.
Brock also was the focus of attention in the game’s final minutes when he went down hard after a shot attempt and took a knee to the head. He suffered a deep gash above his left eye, with Douglas saying he was fine “after they Krazy Glued it.”
The night was going to be memorable for Alleman with the halftime Hall of Fame inductions of Peter Callas, Mike Ebner, AJ Ledbetter and the 1998 softball team. However, it looked as if, basketball-wise, it was going to one to quickly forgettable.
Instead, Alleman (6-2, 1-1) bounced back to make a representative showing, outscoring Quincy by two points outside of that 18-0 start.
“One thing our guys know is that you can’t go back on your heels. You’ve got to be aggressive with your play,” Douglas said. “At halftime, they knew that with two quarters left, anything could happen.”
To get to the finish with a margin close to the start, Quincy got strong bench play. Adonte Crider had 11 points, Zarious Smith-Palmer added six and Lucas Reis had four. The latter two were Quincy’s last reserves.
To get the game down to an 11-point deficit before Quincy had a five-point game-ending run, the Pioneers counted heavily on Andrew Barrett. He finished with game-highs of 17 points, all but two of those in the second half, and nine rebounds.
“We knew we would hit some adversity at some point,” Barrett said, pointing to the game’s outset. “In a way, it’s good to get that out of the way. We knew Quincy was going to be tough coming out of that Moline game (a week ago), but we showed we can play with a lot of teams” by the way the Pioneers battled back.
“We made some adjustments to pick up the pressure in the second half,” Murray noted. “I think we caught Quincy off-guard with that.”
The Alleman coach says his team must get used to teams coming in as the Blue Devils did.
“To go from the hunter to the hunted, we have to be mentally prepared,” he said. “Teams will come after us.”