By MARC NESSELER
Special to the Herald-Whig
MOLINE, Ill. – The Quincy High School boys basketball team feels right at home on the road in the Western Big Six Conference.
Now all the Blue Devils have to do is feel at home at home.
QHS completed the road portion of the conference schedule with a 4-1 record, capping it with a 44-37 victory over Moline on Friday night at Wharton Field House.
“Yes, all we have are two home games left,” Quincy coach Sean Taylor said of the title chase. “But remember, we’re 1-2 at home.”
The Blue Devils close out the WB6 by hosting Rock Island Alleman, with which it shares second place at 5-3, and conference leader Rock Island (6-2). If QHS wins both remaining WB6 games, it will clinch at least a share of the conference title.
“To go 4-1 on the road in a great league, that tells you something about our guys,” said Taylor, whose team improved to 16-6 overall. “We just gave ourselves a chance next Friday.”
A loss would have put Quincy two games back with two games to play. That’s now where Moline finds itself, at 4-4 in the WB6 and 21-5 overall.
Despite the gaudy record, the Maroons were sure to be without leading scorer Anthony Lindauer, out for the fifth of a five-game suspension, and were questionable about having No. 2 scorer Timmy Wages, who missed practice and was on crutches all week with a knee injury. He was cleared to play Friday morning.
Wages finished with team-highs of 14 points, four rebounds and four steals.
Taylor said he fully expected Wages to play on Friday.
“He’s a gutsy player,” Taylor said. “If there’s any way he can, he’ll play.”
Moline coach Ryan Webber said there was “a lot of doubt” on Wages’ availability until getting the medical OK to play.
Still, Wages did not use the injury as a crutch.
“The knee has nothing to do with this loss,” said Wages. “Our team just did not play collectively well. We did not play as five as one.”
Despite Moline being without Lindauer and wondering about Wages, Taylor remained wary of his team’s final conference road trip.
“Remember, that is the same team that beat Normal Community without Lindauer, and Normal Community is leading the Big 12,” said Taylor. “We have a lot of respect for coach Webber and how his teams play.”
The Blue Devils also have a lot of size that was tough for the Maroons to handle. Center DeAngelo Dean dominated, with 18 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
“DeAngelo is one of the best players in the league,” Taylor said. “We going to go to him and play through him. But I thought Mason Fairley and Martin Kvitle did a not job of getting the ball into him.”
No more than six points separated the two teams until Quincy took a 37-30 lead midway through the fourth quarter. QHS fended off the hosts by hitting just enough free throws down the stretch, doing 8 for 14 in the final frame.
Moline got 11 points from Mike Maffie, but no other Maroon got more than six, with Conner Welvaert adding a pair of 3-pointers. Through three quarters, Moline had just nine rebounds to Quincy’s 21.