Blue Devils turn up defensive pressure in second half in victory over Batavia

Devin Prost 217-779-2822 devinprost71@yahoo.com

By Mat Mikesell Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 24, 2016 12:25 am

QUINCY — After scoring less than 20 points in the first half for the second consecutive night, Quincy High School

boys basketball coach Andy Douglas knew the Blue Devils needed an adjustment.

He went with something Quincy hadn’t done this season.

The Blue Devils opened the third quarter in a full-court press, which resulted in Batavia committing 12 second-half turnovers as Quincy grabbed a 50-38 victory Saturday night at Blue Devil Gym.

“We put that press in earlier this week in practice,” junior forward Parker Bland said. “We were actually iffy about applying it in games or not. We hadn’t really run it against our full lineup.”

But after Quincy (13-4) used a 10-2 run to end the first half and grab an 18-17 lead, Douglas saw it as the perfect time to try it.

“It had to be at the right time and I thought we were,” Douglas said. “We were comfortable enough to go ahead and apply it and extend some pressure.”

It worked immediately.

Batavia (14-7) started the third quarter with two straight turnovers that resulted in layins by senior guard Mike Dade and Bland to extend the lead to five points. QHS went back to the press late in third quarter, which sparked a 9-0 run.

A turnover led to a corner 3-pointer by Dade with 2 minutes, 22 seconds left in the quarter. Batavia turned the ball over on its ensuing possession, which resulted in senior guard Jacob Jobe completing a three-point play. Jobe stole the ball two possessions later, and found Bland on a pick-and-roll for another three-point play opportunity.

“We wanted to pressure their guards a little more,” Douglas said. “I thought we were able to get some turnovers, get some deflections and turn those into baskets the other way for us.”

The Bulldogs struggled taking care of the ball — they committed 18 turnovers overall — which created more possessions for the Blue Devils. Quincy recorded nine steals in the second half.

Quincy’s pressure was an extension of its halfcourt press, but was still something Batavia hadn’t seen.

“It might have caught them off guard,” junior forward Garrett Gadeke said. “We got some turnovers, got some deflections and that turned into fastbreak points for us.”

It also helped Quincy get out of its scoring funk.

The Blue Devils scored just 35 points Friday night in its Western Big Six Conference victory over Moline. Quincy scored 32 points in the second half against Batavia.

“In the back of our minds, that was there a little bit because we’re seeing shots not falling,” Dade said. “But they were the shots we wanted and usually make so we weren’t stressing too much about it.”

Quincy didn’t get its first field goal until Jobe beat his defender and drove for a dunk with 4:40 left in the first quarter.

Sophomore guard Aaron Shoot had a layin a minute later to extend Quincy’s lead to 6-2.

Batavia, however, answered with a 10-2 run heading into the second quarter. A 3-pointer by guard Eric Peterson gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead at 15-8 with 5:13 left in the half.

But back-to-back baskets by Gadeke and layins by Shoot, Smith and Bland helped the Blue Devils take a lead into halftime.

Quincy never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils shot 63.1 percent in the second half and dished out five assists.

“Being able to put that press in and have success helped our mindset,” said Bland, who led Quincy with 15 points and seven rebounds. “We did a really good job of taking what coach taught us and applying it.”

It gives Douglas confidence to use the press again.

“We’re at a good place now defensively,” Douglas said. “I think it’s something we’ll use because we can and because of our quickness to give us more possessions.”