By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — Harrison Elbe’s numbers won’t catch your eye.
No points. No field-goal attempts. No free throws, either.
Yet, what the junior guard did in the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s 48-36 victory over Jacksonville Saturday night at the Jacksonville Bowl shouldn’t be overlooked.
Elbe spearheaded a defensive effort that limited an opponent to less than 40 points for the second straight night and fourth time this season as the Crimsons shot 27.1 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from 3-point range.
“If you don’t think he did anything, then you don’t appreciate basketball,” said Quincy coach Sean Taylor, whose team has won seven straight games and is 9-1 in 2012. “He’s a bulldog. He’s not going to get outworked. He’s a big difference maker for us.”
It’s because he understands his role.
“That’s what I do best, and that’s what I like to do,” Elbe, a junior guard, said of playing defense. “I think one guy’s intensity on defense affects the other four guys’ intensity on defense. What I do and what other people do on the defensive side of the floor affects what we do on both ends of the floor the entire game.”
This time, it was taking the Crimsons completely out of their rhythm in the second half.
Tied at 21 after a physical first 16 minutes, Quincy (17-6) held Jacksonville scoreless the first 4 minutes, 55 seconds of the third quarter. In fact, Blake Hance’s offensive rebound and basket was the Crimsons’ only production until the final minute of the quarter.
Jacksonville scored just four points and went 2 of 12 from the field in falling behind 32-25.
“We only gave up 21 points in the first half, and you can’t complain too much about that,” Quincy guard Mason Fairley said. “But we knew we could play more physical. There were three or four 50-50 balls they came up with in the first half and got easy baskets.
“That didn’t happen in the second half. We made a few more balls bounce our way.”
That was true in the fourth quarter when the Blue Devils slammed the door.
The Crimsons (12-15) crawled within 35-29 before going scoreless for a 4:45 span in which they turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions and missed two outside jumpers, winding up in an 11-point hole.
“We knew their primary scorers were in the post and we tried to force them to score over the top,” Fairley said. “It worked well for us.”
It helped that the Blue Devils found some offensive rhythm.
Quincy trailed 21-14 with 2:30 to play in the first half before rattling off seven straight points before halftime. The Blue Devils then opened the third quarter on another 7-0 run the Crimsons couldn’t recovered from.
Jacksonville went 1 of 13 from 3-point range in the second half, and despite grabbing 15 offensive rebounds overall, Jacksonville managed just nine second-chance points.
“Coach said to keep it close in the first half, and in the second half, we’ll be able to make adjustments and exploit their weaknesses,” said Fairley, who scored nine of his 11 points in the second half. “That’s exactly what we tried to do.”
One of those adjustments was continuing to establish DeAngelo Dean on the block. Dean went 1 for 6 from the field in the second quarter, but he scored eight of his game-high 15 points in the third quarter when Quincy got some separation.
He also grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked four shots and had two assists and two steals.
“The way we finished the first half just gave us confidence,” Taylor said. “And our defense was really good.”
That’s because the intensity never wanted.
“We have to put in the effort and we have to play well,” said Elbe, who had three steals and two assists. “You can’t just play with effort alone. It’s going to get you somewhere but it’s not going to win you games against good teams by itself. We had the effort and we played well, too.”