By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
GALESBURG, Ill. — When Andy Douglas reached the bottom of his pregame list of talking points, he forgot why he wrote “pick and choose” on the dry erase board.
“I blanked,” the Quincy High School boys basketball coach said. “I had no idea.”
The Blue Devils had a clue what he meant.
Possession after possession, they picked the right time to attack the basket or to pass up a quality shot to get a better look. It led to the most efficient offensive effort of the season in Friday night’s 70-33 steamrolling of Galesburg in Western Big Six Conference play at John Thiel Gym.
“That was probably the best game we’ve had collectively as a team,” junior guard Jirehl Brock said. “Everybody was getting shots. There was no selfish play. There were a lot of two-, three-, four-pass possessions before a shot.
“Not all of them went in, but a majority of them did.”
The Blue Devils (13-3, 4-1 WB6) set the tone by opening the game on an 8-0 run.
Facing Galesburg’s aggressive and physical man-to-man defense, Quincy point guard Aaron Shoot scored on the first two possessions, driving past his defender for a layup and pulling up for a 10-foot jumper in the lane. Ben Amos scored the next two times, dribbling into the lane and spinning around a defender for a bucket and scoring on a layup.
“When you’re attacking the rim and you’re being aggressive, it really opens up things,” said Shoot, who scored 17 points in the first half and finished with 22. “We saw a lot of mismatches, and we liked a lot of matchups with our guys. I had a good matchup, Ben had a good matchup, and we took advantage of it.”
A timeout settled the Silver Streaks (16-7, 2-3 WB6) down momentarily as they answered the Blue Devils’ opening salvo with a 6-0 run. However, Quincy scored on five consecutive possessions to close the quarter and built a 21-14 lead.
“We knew we had the potential to take over the game completely,” said Brock, who finished with 11 points, six assists and three steals.. “That’s exactly what we did.”
After scoring the first basket of the second quarter, Galesburg committed turnovers on eight of its next nine possessions. By the time the half ended, the Blue Devils outscored the Silver Streaks 24-7 in the second quarter and led by 24 points at halftime.
Quincy went 18 of 30 from the field (60 percent) and 6 of 12 from 3-point range (50 percent) in the first half.
“We’ve really hit that hard the last couple weeks of what a good shot is and trying to get them to understand it,” Douglas said. “Tonight it was like a light bulb went off. I can’t think of a bad shot we took in the first half. None of them were forced shots.”
The Blue Devils missed their first two shots of the third quarter, but it never opened a window of opportunity for the Silver Streaks.
Galesburg missed its first 11 shots of the third quarter, didn’t score until 1:20 remained before the fourth quarter and got outscored 18-4 to start the second half.
“They had the five best players on the floor,” Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds said.
The Blue Devils finished shooting 50.9 percent from the field without one of the top seven players in the rotation playing a minute of the fourth quarter.
“We were playing unselfish, sharing the ball and not worrying about who is getting the points,” said Shoot, who had four of the Blue Devils’ 13 assists. “When we’re moving it around, shots tend to fall because they’re in-rhythm shots.”
It helps to pick and choose the right time for everything. Even if Douglas didn’t remember why he wrote those words, the Blue Devils will expect to see that phrase on the board again.
“Aaron said, ‘You know you have to write that on the board every game we play now,'” Douglas said.