By DRAKE LANSMAN
Special to The Herald-Whig
EAST MOLINE, Ill. — With the third quarter winding down and the opportunity to clinch the team’s first outright Western Big Six Conference title since 2007, the Quincy High School boys basketball team found its moment.
Leading United Township by two points, Quincy’s Ben Amos hit a trey as the third quarter buzzer sounded. The spark of momentum continued as the Blue Devils outscored the Panthers by 10 points in the fourth quarter en route to a title-clinching 56-41 win at the Panther Den.
Jaeden Smith hit three of his seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, when he scored 11 of his game-high 24 points for Class 4A’s 10th-ranked team.
“The momentum came our way when Ben hit that three,” Smith saidof Amos, who scored all seven of his points in the second half. “We just played great as a team (in the fourth quarter) and all-around, everyone was just clicking.”
Smith said his performance broke him out of a personal shooting slump. He made 7 of 11 from deep, and the team shot 11-for-21. Quincy (19-4, 8-1 WB6) shot 8 of 11 from the field in the final frame.
Smith said it felt “amazing” to clinch the outright title after sharing it the past two years.
“We definitely deserve this title, and even though they said we would finish third, we finished on the top,” Smith said. “We just worked hard all season to get our goal.”
Following a 62-28 loss at Moline without Aaron Shoot to start WB6 play on Dec. 1, Quincy has won eight straight in conference. Shoot scored seven points.
Quincy coach Andy Douglas is proud of the run his team has been on in WB6 play.
“It’s never easy in this conference,” said Douglas. “But I’m really proud of this group. They’ve exceeded a lot of people’s expectations, including ours in some areas. They played really well this season.”
For UT (12-14, 2-7), outside of Jean Luc Wilson’s 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, the rest of the Panthers shot 7 of 28. Delaney Little had six points and Shamar Grant scored five.
“It’s a make-or-miss game, and they get a buzzer-beater in the first quarter and the third quarter,” UT coach Ryan Webber said. “And we can’t capitalize from the free-throw line.”
UT was 6 of 13 at the line. Quincy’s pressure also played a factor in UT’s 12 turnovers. UT shot 15 of 41 from the field overall.
“We weren’t very sharp with the ball to start the fourth quarter and they made us pay,” said Webber, who said Wilson seemed to be the only guy who brought the extra competitive energy needed on Friday night. “We were kind of begging guys at halftime to join him. And I was really proud of the way he was competing out there. We just needed more guys to help him.”
Quincy 56, United Township 41