By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 6, 2015 1:00 am
QUINCY — Parker Bland didn’t hesitate to dive onto the Blue Devil Gym floor when a long rebound turned into a mad scramble.
He did hesitate to get up, and that had the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s bench concerned.
The Blue Devils were 3 minutes, 13 seconds away from salting away their fifth straight victory — they ended up beating Oswego 64-49 Saturday night — when Bland and others fought for the loose ball above the top of the key. A jump ball was called, possession was given to Quincy and players from both teams helped each other to their feet. Bland stayed down, clutching his left shoulder.
“It just went numb,” the junior forward said. “The trainer said I hit a nerve just right to cause that, but there’s no structural damage.”
Had it been more serious, it would have a damaging blow. Bland scored a career-high 28 points, including 13 in the third quarter, as he used his length and quickness to attack the rim with conviction against Oswego’s taller frontline.
He returned to play the final two minutes and left the gym with an ice bag taped to his shoulder. He also had a smile after making 10 of 17 shots, grabbing nine rebounds, snaring five steals and going 8 of 9 from the free-throw line in what was the most complete performance of his three-year varsity career.
“(QHS coach Andy Douglas) told me I was going to be just as big but quicker than these guys,” Bland said. “He told me from the get-go to use that to my advantage. So I took what I got.”
He hustled every play, especially the one in which he was injured.
“That’s the type of guy that Parker is,” Douglas said. “There’s no half-way in those situations. As a coach, you want your guys to dive, and you preach giving that second or third effort. It’s kind of hard to tell them to tone it down a little bit.”
Douglas even liked the way Bland showed he could extend his game.
Tied at 14 three minutes into the second quarter, Quincy went on a 14-2 run to take control of the game. Bland had seven points in the run, including hitting a 3-pointer from the left corner as the Blue Devils scored on seven straight possessions and turned five turnovers by the Panthers (5-1) into eight points.
“They forced us into turnovers that we need to overcome,” said Oswego coach Matt Borrowman, who enjoyed a homecoming sorts after growing up in Pike County, Ill. “Our turnovers were leading to their baskets. We talked about it halftime, and you saw what happened at the start of the third quarter, We let them go on another run.”
Quincy started the second half with a 9-0 surge to take a 37-19 lead and led by as many as 21 points before Oswego showed some moxie. The Panthers trimmed the deficit back to 12 before the Blue Devils sealed the victory at the line.
Senior point guard Mike Dade went 7 of 8 from the line in the final minute and scored 19 points. Quincy went 23 of 28 from the line.