GENEVA, Ill. — Jaeden Smith and the Quincy High School boys basketball team couldn’t have drawn up a more perfect second quarter.
Clinging to an 8-point lead after the first quarter, Smith and the Blue Devils wanted to get more cushion between them and Geneva.
They knew what they had to do.
“Our team thrives on our defense,” Smith said. “When we’re playing well defensively, we play well offensively.”
Boy, did they play well defensively.
Quincy limited Geneva to just four points in the quarter, forced seven turnovers, held the Vikings to 1 of 8 shooting from the field and held them scoreless for the final 5 minutes, 37 seconds of the half.
“We were pumped,” Smith said. “We were definitely happy with holding them scoreless during that timespan.”
It led Quincy to a 63-55 victory over Geneva on Saturday night at Contest Gym.
“I think our guys played (the 1-2-2 zone) as well as we have all year long,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “I thought our energy was great. Guys were communicating. It looked like they were having fun playing defense, and that’s what we like to see as coaches.”
Geneva’s Kross Garth sunk a pair of free throws with 5:37 left in the first half to cut Quincy’s lead to 24-16. After that, Quincy’s 1-2-2 zone broke down Geneva. The Blue Devils forced steals on the Vikings’ next five possessions. Geneva had another turnover and missed their last five shots of the half. Geneva was held scoreless for a 7:32 span that started in the second quarter and lasted until the third quarter.
Smith and Jirehl Brock sparked the Quincy offense. Smith scored five points, Brock added four and Colin Tenhouse added a layup to give Quincy a 35-18 lead at the half. Brock led the Blue Devils (20-4) with 17 points. Smith added 15, Aaron Shoot had 14 and Ben Amos scored 11.
“I love when teammates are hitting shots, because then it feels good when I put them up,” Smith said. “When our teammates hit, I just feel like I can hit, too, to go along with them.”
Geneva (17-11) had its hall of fame induction ceremony at halftime, but the extended break didn’t bother the Blue Devils. Brock got a steal on Geneva’s first possession and converted it into a layup. It was one of three steals for Brock.
After Geneva’s Jack McDonald hit a jumper, the Blue Devils went on a 16-5 run that gave them a 53-25 lead, their biggest of the night.
“There’s been a few times this season when (in the) third quarter, we let up and let the team come up in the third quarter, and then in the fourth quarter, we picked it up,” Brock said. “We knew that we couldn’t do that tonight.”
Geneva’s bench made things interesting late, closing the game on an 18-2 run.
“I thought we did a really good job of bringing energy,” Douglas said. “These guys did a good job of setting the tempo defensively, and it led to some good offense.”