Nothing comes free: Blue Devils make enough free throws to finish off Rocks

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Jan. 25, 2020 1:24 am Updated: Jan. 25, 2020 1:41 am

QUINCY — For a short stretch in overtime Friday night, the Quincy High School boys basketball team didn’t find the charity stripe so charitable.

Lucas Reis still wanted to toe the line.

The senior guard made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 44.1 seconds and buried the first of two with 1.3 seconds remaining to finally put away Rock Island as the Blue Devils earned a 54-50 Western Big Six Conference victory during the third annual Quincy Shootout at Blue Devil Gym.

“I know a lot of these Rocky players and I was telling them you don’t want to foul me,” Reis said with a sly grin. “I told Malachi (Key), ‘Don’t let me take over this game because I’ll be shooting free throws.’

“I want the ball there, and when (Adonte Crider) passed it to me, he was like, ‘You’ll make them.’ I felt I would, too.”

By doing so, he kept the Blue Devils in the midst of the WB6 title chase at the midpoint of the league season. Quincy (12-6, 5-2 WB6) trails Galesburg (20-2, 6-2 WB6) by a half-game with a trip to John Thiel Gym looming Tuesday night.

“I told Adonte this is about putting paint on the wall,” Reis said, referring to the list of WB6 championships painted on the north wall of the gym. “That’s why we had to fight.”

It became a fight to the finish.

Quincy led by six throughout most of the third quarter, but Rock Island (13-5, 4-3 WB6) scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 36. A shot by Reis going down the middle of the lane and a 3-pointer by Crider regained the lead, before Rocky answered and tied the game at 43 with 1:20 to play.

A turnover allowed Rocky to take the lead on Taurean Holtam’s layin from the left block. Jeremiah Talton made a pair of free throws with 44.2 seconds left to tie the game and eventually force overtime.

“We have a team that can make a mistake, get back and turn it right back around,” Crider said.

The Blue Devils had to do that time and again.

Tied at 47 nearly three minutes into overtime, Quincy’s Brady Rupert missed a pair of free throws, but Crider snared the offensive rebound and reset the offense. Rupert made amends for the misses by scoring off a Reis assist for a 49-47 lead.

A missed 3-point attempt by the Rocks, an offensive rebound by Crider of a missed free throw and Reis’ two free throws gave the Blue Devils a four-point advantage. 

“That was kind of us tonight,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “We were extremely resilient from tip to the last buzzer. It didn’t matter if it was missed free throws or missed layups, Lord knows we had plenty of those. We played through mistakes, and that’s what tough teams do.”

That included the final minute.

Jordan Rice, Rock Island’s junior point guard who returned to the lineup after missing five games with an ankle injury, buried a 3-pointer from about 30 feet to narrow the deficit to 51-50 with 34.6 seconds remaining.

Quincy forced a turnover on Rocky’s next possession, and Reis, who finished with 20 points, three assists and three steals, made it a three-point game with two free throws with 9.6 seconds left. Those came after Crider missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but collected the offensive rebound of his miss.

It was the kind of hustle play that ultimately won the game.

“We’re trying to get to where we’re a consistent team being tough,” Douglas said. “This was a good step toward that.”