By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
QUINCY — Quincy High School boys basketball coach Andy Douglas didn’t want the Blue Devils shying away from Chicago Corliss center George Conditt IV because they were scared to get their shots blocked.
Truth be told, Douglas welcomed a few swats.
“If he had zero blocks, we weren’t working hard enough,” Douglas said.
The Blue Devils made sure that wasn’t a concern.
Attacking off the dribble and challenging the 6-foot-10 Iowa State signee at the rim, Quincy turned a five-point halftime lead into a rout, ending the Trojans’ 15-game winning streak with a 66-41 victory Saturday night at Blue Devil Gym.
The critical sequence came over the final four minutes of the third quarter as a six-point game became an 11-point advantage thanks to the Blue Devils’ relentless nature. It started with Jirehl Brock tipping in a missed 3-pointer by Jaeden Smith and ended with Ben Amos catching a nifty pass from Aaron Shoot for a layup out of Conditt’s reach.
“We knew he was tall, and we knew he could jump,” Shoot said. “We tried to make it a point to get in there and still get looks. We didn’t want to settle for outside shots all night.”
Still, Conditt’s presence was undeniable.
He had two dunks in the first quarter and helped the Trojans build a 14-11 lead. However, Shoot drove to the middle of the lane on the final possession of the quarter, hesitated with his shot to get Conditt up in the air and buried a short jumper.
He did the same thing on the first possession of the second quarter, developing a blueprint for how to avoid a shot blocker.
“That’s one of things Coach talked about in the locker room. We had to get him off his feet,” Shoot said. “He’d either foul us or get a look at the basket.”
At the same time, the Blue Devils challenged the Trojans’ guards with the 1-2-2 zone defense. Corliss held the ball for more than two minutes on its first possession of the game and stayed very methodical offensively. Corliss scored just four points of the final 5:55 of the first half as Quincy turned a two-point deficit into a five-point lead. The Trojans committed three of their 18 turnovers in that stretch.
“Because we got it to the paint, it opened up a lot for us in the long room,” Douglas said.
Quincy scored 10 of its 12 field goals in the first half in the paint and had 42 points in the paint overall despite Conditt blocking six shots. The Blue Devils also had the edge on second-chance points, scoring 12 off eight offensive rebounds. The Trojans had five points off 10 offensive rebounds.
Conditt finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“We told them, ‘Don’t shy away from him. Don’t change your shot. Don’t be scared to get your shot blocked,'” Douglas said.
No one was.
“You can’t be,” said Quincy guard Jaeden Smith, who led the Blue Devils with 15 points. “He’s going to block shots. He’s 6-foot-10. He should block some shots. But if you get your shot blocked, you just keep going in there. You can’t be afraid to attack.”
Nor could the Blue Devils shy away from pressure.
Corliss played in-your-shorts man-to-man defense from start to finish, but the Blue Devils turned the ball over just once in the first half and just five times overall.
Quincy shot 50.9 percent from the field and made 6 of 7 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
“It was a whole team effort,” Douglas said. “I was proud of the effort they put forth.”