By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 29, 2015 1:43 am
QUINCY — The moment he let his half-court shot fly, Mike Dade made a silent plea.
“Please, please, go in,” he said.
When it did, the Quincy High School senior point guard found himself lost in a mosh pit of his teammates and fans spilling out of the QHS student section.
“It was one of those moments where everything just stopped around me,” he said.
Dade banked in the 3-pointer from just beyond the midcourt stripe to give the Blue Devils a 49-47 victory over Chicago Marshall on Saturday night in the championship game of the 45th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament.
“I didn’t hear anything around me,” he said. “I just let go. Thank God it went in.”
Had it not, Dade knows he would have walked out of Blue Devil Gym feeling more like a goat than a hero.
Quincy led 45-41 with 50.4 seconds remaining before back-to-back turnovers led to Marshall scoring back-to-back baskets from inside 5 feet to tie the game with 14 seconds remaining. With the Commandos applying full-court pressure after Jakari Smith’s putback tied, Dade took the inbounds pass and tried to split two defenders.
He drew a foul and went to the free-throw line for two attempts. He made the first and missed the second, leaving the Blue Devils clinging to a one-point lead.
“It was one of those things where you can’t have that negative energy in your head,” Dade said. “You can’t be thinking the worst. I couldn’t let that missed free throw bother me.”
Not when another play had to be made.
Marshall’s Tyrese Williford, who scored 12 points, attacked the right side of the lane on the ensuing possession and sank the short runner for a 47-46 lead with just three seconds left. Quincy coach Andy Douglas called a timeout with 2.8 seconds remaining and drew up a play to get the ball in Dade’s hands.
“I told Mike I wanted him to catch it on the run,” said Douglas, whose team won the tournament for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. “He had to give himself an opportunity. That’s all you can ask for in that situation.”
Running off a double screen, Dade caught the inbounds pass and made two dribbles up the right-hand side of the floor while being bumped by Williford. Just as he got in front of the announcer’s table, he fired the shot that banked in without touching the rim.
“It’s surreal,” Dade said. “It’s what you dream of.”
It’s what the Blue Devils have practiced.
“We practice those every day,” said junior forward Parker Bland, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. “We focus on that. Sometimes, that’s what it comes down to. We had a lot of turnovers and a lot of missed opportunities leading up to that. But we knew in the end Mike was the man to go to.”
The Blue Devils leaned heavily on Bland and Cameron Gay to build what appeared to be a decisive advantage.
Gay scored Quincy’s first seven points of the third quarter, fueling an 11-2 run that put the Blue Devils ahead 29-16. At that point, he was the only Quincy player to made a field goal inside the 3-point stripe and was the point man on Quincy’s 1-2-2 zone defense that forced Marshall to go 1 of 10 from 3-point range in the first half.
Gay finished with 14 points and five rebounds.
“Cameron was poised,” Douglas said. “He handled the ball for us. He handled pressure, especially when they would run and jump at him. He gave us opportunities to be successful. Defensively, he’s the guy who has to be the most consistent, and he was more than consistent for us.”
Bland battled foul trouble in the first half, sitting the final six minutes of the second quarter with two fouls. However, he re-emerged in the third quarter, scoring 10 points, grabbing three rebounds and twice scoring to push Quincy’s lead to 13 points.
However, forcing turnovers and grabbing offensive rebounds allowed Marshall to whittle that deficit away.
The Commandos turned the Blue Devils’ 10 second-half turnovers into 16 points and scored 11 second-chance points off 10 offensive rebounds.
Yet, Dade erased the bitter taste of frittering away a lead with one miraculous shot.
“In a place like this, where tradition is so strong, it’s incredible,” Dade said. “It’s hard to believe it really went in.”