By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Dec. 7, 2019 1:20 am
QUINCY — The memories of the occasional abuse Aaron Shoot delivered in practice two years ago don’t haunt Lucas Reis.
They motivate him.
And the Quincy High School senior point guard showcased all he learned from trying to defend Shoot during a pivotal stretch of the fourth quarter Friday night in the Western Big Six Conference opener against Galesburg.
The Blue Devils led 50-49 with three minutes to play when Reis shook free of Silver Streaks sophomore guard Daylan Ellington to score three consecutive baskets, putting the finishing touches on a 59-50 victory at Blue Devil Gym.
“I did the same thing to Aaron Shoot,” Reis said of the way Ellington applied tenacity and pressure. “And he blew by me every day. Last year, facing that, I probably would have turned it over. Absolutely, I would have. I knew I just had to keep calm. That’s a big emphasis, just staying calm.
“That’s what (QHS coach Andy) Douglas told me this week. He said, ‘They think from watching film you’re going to turn it over, but you’re not the same player.’ He trusts me. (Assistant coach Tom Lepper) trusts me with the ball. That’s what has my confidence up.”
With Reis at the controls, the Blue Devils never lost the lead in the second half.
Quincy (4-0, 1-0 WB6) led 36-31 at halftime but watched Galesburg pull within two points twice in the third quarter, but Reis drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 45-40 with 2:40 remaining in the quarter as the Blue Devils went on a 7-0 run.
Galesburg forward Jaylin McCants answered by scoring seven of the first eight points of the fourth quarter to pull the Silver Streaks within 50-49. That’s when Reis played like a savvy veteran.
He finished with 20 points, seven assists and three steals.
“Huge improvement from where he was last year,” Galesburg coach Ryan Hart said. “He’s improved his game 100 times. He can get the ball where it needs to go. He’s strong with the ball. If you let him get in rhythm, he’s going to knock down shots, too.
“It was on the board that we needed to keep him away from the rim and not let him get in-rhythm jump shots. To his credit, he was able to do it.”
More importantly, he helped the Blue Devils find their rhythm defensively after a rough first quarter.
The Silver Streaks opened the game by hitting five consecutive 3-pointers and led 15-5 just 3:15 into the game. The Blue Devils crawled back in the game, pulling within 21-18 as seven players scored in the first quarter.
“We came out real flat,” said Lepper, who is serving as interim coach during Douglas’ six-game suspension. “We told them in the locker room you have to contest, and we did a poor job doing that. When shooters make shots like that, you’re left with a poor outlook when you’re looking up at the scoreboard.”
But the Blue Devils changed their defensive energy and the flow of the game.
Quincy allowed just 10 points in the second quarter and 29 total over the final three quarters as Galesburg went 4 of 22 from 3-point range following its blistering start. Senior forward Jaylin McCants finished with 20 points — 14 in the second half — and he was the only Silver Streak to score in the fourth quarter.
“I thought our energy was a little slow to start the game, but they turned it around,” Lepper said.
It started by taking away shooters.
“Tom wasn’t going to let them shoot all day long, especially wide open,” Hart said. “They got out on them.”
Galesburg went 2 of 14 from 3-point range in the second half.
“We knew they could shoot coming in, but they came out swinging,” Reis said. “The emphasis at the end of the first quarter was the fact we needed to pick the defensive effort up. That’s what we did, and that’s what won us the game.
“It was us a group coming together. We were telling each other to stay calm. By doing that, it changed everything.”
Quincy 59, Galesburg 50