Matter of trust: Blue Devils gain confidence all around with strong finish

Quincy High School’s Adonte Crider drives to the basket against Belleville East’s Braxton Stacker during the consolation championship game of the 35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic. | Photo for the H-W/Jim Simmons

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 29, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 30, 2018 8:45 am

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — The most comforting and confidence-building aspect of Adonte Crider’s weekend was the fact the Quincy High School boys basketball coaching staff allowed him to play through his struggles.

It paid major dividends in the end.

Despite missing his first four 3-point attempts Saturday against Belleville East, Crider knocked down consecutive treys with two minutes remaining in the third quarter to turn a seemingly tight five-point lead into a nine-point bulge.

The Lancers never fully recovered, cutting the deficit to eight on a pair of occasions before the Blue Devils waltzed away with a 46-32 victory in the consolation championship game of the 35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic at Vergil Fletcher Gym.

“Coming into halftime, I knew my team needed more out of me,” said Crider, who had just four of his 14 points in the first half after going 6 of 26 from the field and 2 of 14 from 3-point range in Friday’s two games. “I don’t want to let my team down. So in my head, I’m like, ‘I know I have to do better.’ I come out and do whatever I can do to help the best I can.”

That boils down to trust, something the Blue Devils gained an abundance of throughout the tournament.

After a humbling loss to Edwardsville in Thursday’s opening round, Quincy strung together three dominant defensive efforts and headed home with three straight victories for the first time since winning the consolation championship in 2006.

That season, the Blue Devils rattled off 14 consecutive victories and ended up reaching a Class AA sectional championship game.

With his team sitting at 6-7, Quincy coach Andy Douglas isn’t going to draw any comparisons to the two teams or make any suggestions a similar run is coming. But he trusts the Blue Devils will put forth the kind of effort necessary to go on such a streak.

“In talking with our coaches, this weekend was all about trust,” Douglas said. “We had to be able to gain trust in Adonte that he’s going to have an rough offensive night but still be able to guard, that Lucas (Reis) is going to have turnovers but still be able to handle it the next possession.

“I think this was a great weekend for that because everyone gained a lot of trust in each other.”

And they trust their defense wholeheartedly.

Quincy finished as the best defensive team in the tournament, topping the field in points allowed (39.0), field goal defense (33.7 percent) and 3-point defense (18.6 percent).

As energetic as the Blue Devils played in Friday night’s 47-26 victory over Belleville Althoff, the defensive effort in the second half against Belleville East might have been better.

The Lancers went 0 of 6 from 3-point range, shot just 33 percent from the field and committed eight turnovers against just six field goals over the final 16 minutes. Overall, Belleville East committed 16 turnovers which led to 15 points for Quincy.

The Blue Devils also had a 10-2 advantage in fast-break points.

“I thought (Friday) was a turnaround game for us,” said Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith, who had 14 points and three assists and finished the tournament 16 of 16 from the free-throw line. “Althoff is going to win a bunch of games this year because they’re a good team and we shut them down. We shut Belleville East down in the second half. Coach was on us in the first half about leaving shooters open.

“They didn’t make many, fortunately for us. But we locked them down in the second half.”

And locked up some necessary victories with a slew of tough road games on the horizon.

“I’m proud of the growth we made,” Douglas said. “We came into the tournament rough. It could go one of two ways after that, but we used it as a moment to grow. That’s been our motto ever since I’ve been here, but this group needed to see it happen. I’m proud of the growth from the first game on.”

35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic

Quincy 46, Belleville East 32