Straight Shooter: Third-quarter run sparked by sophomore’s treys leads Blue Devils past Raiders

EP-312209952By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 20, 2015 2:00 am

QUINCY — With three minutes elapsed in the third quarter Saturday night, the Quincy High School boys basketball team had failed to gain the separation it was accustomed to getting.

It turns out the Blue Devils needed just a little longer to make that happen.

An 8-0 run by Quincy Notre Dame had whittled QHS’s eight-point halftime lead to 40-37 midway through the quarter, but the Blue Devils answered with a 12-0 burst of their own, highlighted by three Aaron Shoot 3-pointers. From there, QHS never let its lead dip below five points in earning a 64-56 victory at the Pit.

“That’s bragging rights,” QHS senior point guard Mike Dade said. “To come to a hostile place, a place that’s tough to win, we knew we were going to have to battle. It means a lot to come through and stay composed.”

Typically, it had been the Blue Devils’ opponent trying to do that in the face of extreme pressure.

Through the first eight games, QHS (8-1) had outscored each opponent by an average of six points over the first three minutes of the third quarter. Although the Blue Devils scored on three of their first four possessions of the second half, the Raiders scored on five straight trips, owning a 10-7 edge at that point.

Carter Cramsey’s drive from the right wing for a layin with four minutes to go pulled QND (5-3) within three.

“We knew they were a third-quarter team, and I feel we are a third-quarter team,” QND coach Kevin Meyer said. “Which one was going to give there and which one was going to have to take?”

Shoot answered Cramsey’s drive with a 3-pointer 15 seconds later, and after QHS’s Parker Bland drew a charging foul on Tanner Stuckman, Shoot knocked down his second trey. Bland finished a pass from Shoot with a bank shot after a QND turnover, and then the sophomore guard converted another turnover into third 3-pointer to make it a 51-37 advantage.

“After the first couple went in, I was like, ‘I’m going to shoot the ball when I get it,'” said Shoot, who went 6 of 6 from the field and scored 17 points with five assists.

Each of his 3-pointers felt like a dagger to the Raiders.

“It’s heartbreaking when you get on a little run and then he hits a three,” QND junior forward Jacob Mayfield said.

It wasn’t the only time the Blue Devils stemmed the tide with a key basket.

A 7-2 spurt by QND that tied the game at 9 in the first quarter was answered by a 7-0 run from QHS. The Raiders cut the deficit to two twice in the second quarter, only to see the Blue Devils come up with Jake Jobe’s three-point play to stall the first one and Deven Smith’s first basket of the season to end the second run.

“You think you’re getting in there, getting closer and closer, and then they hit a big three or a big shot,” said Mayfield, who led QND with 19 points. “It sinks you.”

Worse yet for the Raiders, the Blue Devils made crucial plays to finish each of the first two quarters.

Dade was fouled in the act of shooting with 3.9 seconds left in the first quarter and split his free throws. When he missed the second, QHS guard Cameron Gay outhustled the Raiders to tip the rebound, which allowed Dade to grab it coming down the lane and finish a layup for a three-point play at the buzzer.

An offensive rebound on the final possession of the second quarter allowed the Blue Devils to extend the lead again. This time, Shoot beat the QND defense off the dribble, charging down the middle of the lane for a basket with two seconds left and a 33-25 edge.

“The buzzer goes off and you’re shaking your head like, ‘What just happened?'” Meyer said.

The Blue Devils were feeling the same way when they proceeded to turn the ball over on six straight possessions in the second half, allowing the Raiders to trim a 15-point deficit to 10 on Mayfield’s baseline drive with 5:51 to go in regulation.

Another led to QND’s Aubrey Reis hitting a 3-pointer from the right corner with 57 seconds left that cut the QHS lead to 58-53.

The Blue Devils turned the ball over 12 times in the second half and 18 times overall, but they didn’t turn the ball over on their final five possessions and made 6 of 10 free throws to salt away the victory. They also forced turnovers on QND’s final two possessions.

“We almost got too aggressive and lost our heads a little bit,” Shoot said. “We got it back together and settled down. We were still aggressive, but in more of a smart way.”

That showed in the most critical moments as the Blue Devils never gave up the lead. They’ve trailed only 15 seconds total in their eight victories.

“That shows that we’re growing and executing when we need to,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said.

To do it in a rivalry game means just a little more.

“It keeps us competitive and builds confidence,” QHS junior forward Garrett Gadeke said. “That’s something special.”

Shoot to thrill: Sophomore guard’s 3-pointer lifts Blue Devils to WB6 victory

AR-312199961By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 19, 2015 2:00 am

QUINCY — When Aaron Shoot decided to rise and fire from 3-point range with the Quincy High School boys basketball team desperately trying to fend off United Township, no one second-guessed that decision.

Actually, the Blue Devils might like to see him take that chance more often.

“I knew he could shoot. That’s his last name,” said Quincy point guard Mike Dade, who made the pass that led to Shoot’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining in the Blue Devils’ 46-40 Western Big Six Conference victory Friday night at Blue Devil Gym. “He was born to do that.”

Still, it was a surprising trigger pull by a sophomore making his first varsity start.

“I feel confident in myself,” said Shoot, who started in place of senior Jake Jobe, who sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons. “I’ve worked hard and the whole team has worked hard. We have confidence in each other.”

Shoot has gained his coach’s confidence, too.

“The kid has the last name for a reason,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “That’s a big-time shot to shoot. He’s growing, and he showed that tonight. That’s what we need from him.”

The Blue Devils (7-1, 2-1 WB6) needed confidence and composure when their comfortable 10-point lead evaporated.

United Township’s Jacob Meeske hit back-to-back 3-pointers with three minutes left in the third quarter to trim Quincy’s lead to 26-22, and another six-point run in the fourth quarter pulled the Panthers within 32-30 with 4:25 remaining.

Free throws from Dade and Shoot allowed the Blue Devils to push the lead back to 36-30 with three minutes to play.

“That’s experience showing,” said Shoot, who went 2 of 3 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 10 points. “Dade is a great leader. I don’t think we could have done that without him. He calmed us all down and guided us all around and didn’t let us lose that.”

United Township’s relentless effort on the glass nearly negated it.

The Panthers (7-2, 1-2 WB6) collected three offensive rebounds on a single possession, leading to Tray Buchanan’s 3-pointer from the wing with 2:28 to go. After a Quincy turnover, Buchanan missed a 3-pointer from the left wing, but

United Township’s Izaya Sims grabbed the offensive rebound and made the putback for a one-point game.

UT had seven offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points in the fourth quarter.

However, when it mattered most, the Blue Devils cleaned up.

After Buchanan tied the game at 38 and Shoot followed with his clutch three, Buchanan and Dade traded free throws, leaving the Panthers down 43-40 with 35 seconds left. Buchanan attempted a 3-pointer from the left wing that rimmed long and Sims grabbed the offensive rebound. His putback attempt rimmed out, and Quincy’s Parker Bland outmuscled the Panthers for the defensive rebound.

Although knocked to the ground as he came down with the board, Bland called timeout before being tied up and potentially losing possession.

“Coach Douglas came specifically to me and said, ‘We have three timeouts. Get the rebound and call timeout,'” Bland said. “Off the missed shot, I knew I had to get it.”

Dade and Bland combined to make 3 of 4 free throws in the final nine seconds to seal the victory.

“We didn’t do too hot on the boards tonight,” said Bland, who scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds although the Panthers held a 31-25 rebounding edge. “We had to follow through on our free throws, and we had to execute. We did that in the end.”

The Panthers struggled to do that throughout. United Township went 4 of 20 from the field in the first half, finished 13 of 50 overall and knocked down just 6 of 29 3-point attempts. Buchanan scored a game-high 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting, while Meeske was 3 of 10 from 3-point range and had 11 points, six below his season average.

“I just don’t like us offensively,” United Township coach Ryan Webber said. “It wasn’t always execution — it was not finishing at the basket. We just didn’t shoot the ball from the perimeter very well. It was a collective effort.”

Blue Devils go on the attack, get back in win column

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Photo taken by Shelly Kraemer (SK Photography)

By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 13, 2015 1:05 am

QUINCY — Cameron Gay never hesitated.

When he noticed his 3-point attempt from the left wing might be off the mark, the Quincy High School senior guard bolted to get in position for the offensive rebound. Since no one on the Springfield boys basketball team deterred him, Gay gobbled up the board and made the putback less than 90 seconds into Saturday night’s game.

The Blue Devils kept right on attacking. Quincy pulled down 15 offensive rebounds, scored 11 second-chance points and rebounded from its first loss of the season with a 59-43 victory at Blue Devil Gym.

“What I always do is follow my shot,” said Gay, who had 10 points and four rebounds. “It’s what you’re supposed to do. You just have to have that mindset.”

It allowed Quincy (6-1) to control the game and the tempo. One night after trailing Rock Island the final 30 minutes, the Blue Devils never trailed, turned a six-point halftime edge into a 19-point lead by the end of the third quarter and stayed undefeated at home.

Better yet, there was no carryover from Friday night’s 15-point loss.

“At some point, you just have to let that go,” Gay said. “You have to move on to the next opponent.”

That meant being prepared for a Springfield team developing a reputation for attacking the glass.

The Senators had six offensive rebounds in the first six minutes and finished with eight offensive rebounds and five second-chance points in the first half. It allowed Springfield to trail only 29-23 at halftime despite shooting 34.6 percent from the field.

“They’re so aggressive shooting and so aggressive getting to the glass,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “You have to match that and take it away.”

In the second half, Quincy took everything away.

Springfield guard Isaac Nelson, who had 15 points, knocked down a pair of pull-up jumpers in the first 50 seconds of the third quarter, trimming Quincy’s lead to 31-27 before the Blue Devils locked in defensively. The Senators made just two field goals the next 11 minutes, 32 seconds, falling behind 55-31.

Springfield went 2 of 18 in that stretch, grabbing just three offensive rebounds. Both made field goals came on putbacks.

“We did a good job of stopping them from getting the shots that they wanted, whether it was penetration inside or driving and kicking to shooters,” said Douglas, whose defense held the Senators to 32.1 percent shooting overall. “Defensively, we locked up and we ended the play. That was crucial.”

Quincy outrebounded Springfield 40-27.

“No matter who shoots the ball, Coach wants us to have at least three or four guys rebounding,” Gay said. “We have guys who can do that.”

They also have guys who can finish around the rim. The Blue Devils shot 46.3 percent from the field, knocking down 8 of 12 shots in the third quarter when they outscored the Senators 19-6. Parker Bland had nine of his 15 points in the third quarter, but he insisted the defense is what fueled everything.

“We knew we had to keep them from getting to the middle,” said Bland, who added eight rebounds. “Every time they got to the middle, they’d kick it out. That’s how all of their plays developed. Once we got the middle contained, we were able to play off that real well.”

It led to holding an opponent to fewer than 50 points for the sixth time in seven games.

“We have to be able to guard our yard if you will,” Douglas said. “We cleaned up what we didn’t do well against Rocky, but we really didn’t put it all together until the second half.”

Nothing Bland about Blue Devils’ Performance

EP-3120699392

Quincy High’s Parker Bland tries to muscle his way around Oswego defender Brice Robinson in first-half action of their game Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Blue Devil Gym. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson Phil Carlson 1|

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.

Half-court heave by Dade helps QHS steal Thanksgiving Tournament title

AR-151129988

Quincy High School’s Deven Smith looks to shoot while being defended by Marshall’s Edward Bryant during Saturday night’s basketball game at Blue Devil Gym in Quincy. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt Steve Bohnstedt

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.”

 

 

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