Gadeke, Blue Devils bury memory of early-season loss to Panthers

Quincy High’s Garrett Gadeke (42) battles for a rebound with United Township’s Izaya Sims during their game Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, at Blue Devil Gym. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson Phil Carlson1|

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Feb. 10, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 11, 2017 12:40 am

QUINCY — Not quite 48 hours after Garrett Gadeke missed the shot he couldn’t forget, a newspaper headline trumpeted his redemption.

That didn’t actually happen until Friday night.

Eight weeks after Gadeke’s last-second shot rolled off the rim and saddled the Quincy High School boys basketball team with a 45-43 loss at United Township, the senior forward was a central figure in the Blue Devils getting back in the Western Big Six Conference championship chase.

Gadeke scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, including two defensive boards in the final minute of regulation that enable the Blue Devils to grab a 41-38 victory over the Panthers at Blue Devil Gym.

“After that first loss, and the fashion in which we lost it, I really hung my head on the bus ride home,” Gadeke said. “It’s a moment where you feel you let your teammates down, you let your coaches down, and in a sense, your community and your school. We want to bring home a Western Big Six title so badly, and the fact I had a part in taking a step back instead of a step forward, it really makes you think.

“To come out here tonight and play aggressive, play smart and play strong, it meant everything.”

Now, all the Blue Devils have to do is win their final two WB6 games to do no worse than tie for the title.

Quincy (17-4, 6-2 WB6) still trails United Township (22-5, 7-2 WB6) by a half-game, and the Panthers can wrap up their share of the title by beating Rock Island next week. But with victories over Galesburg and Moline, the Blue Devils would win their league-record 22nd championship.

“This was just another step toward our goal,” QHS sophomore guard Jirehl Brock said. “We have to keep moving forward.”

Gadeke knows just how important that is.

The loss in December at the Panther Den ended the Blue Devils’ seven-game winning streak. Although Quincy came back the next night to beat Quincy Notre Dame 68-50 as Gadeke had 15 points and 10 rebounds, he continued to play with a chip on his shoulder because of that one miss.

That won’t change. He has his redemption, but he wants a WB6 title just as badly as anyone else.

“It’s awesome to watch that kid grow and develop,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “He was a monster tonight. The biggest thing, though, was being tough enough to more forward from a game like he had earlier this season and not have it be in the back of his mind. That shows his maturity and leadership.”