Blue Devils ready to relive path to state

Quincy High coach Andy Douglas has words for an official after Douglas was given a technical foul during the Blue Devils’ game against Quincy Notre Dame Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at the Pit. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson Phil Carlson1|

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Feb. 26, 2018 8:15 am Updated: Feb. 26, 2018 10:23 am

QUINCY — Despite all the Quincy High School boys basketball team has accomplished this season, there seems to be a prevailing thought it is a longshot to advance past the Class 4A Pekin Sectional.

The Blue Devils don’t mind hearing that. They relish the chance to prove doubters wrong yet again.

When the Class of 2018 was in eighth grade, Quincy was seeded seventh in the Class 8-4A regional hosted by Jacksonville Turner. By the end of that week, the Quincy eighth graders had pulled off three upsets, including one in overtime, and won a regional title.

Another upset in the sectional — the Blue Devils beat a Mount Zion team that was 17-5 — meant a state tournament berth. So a team that began the postseason with an 8-7 record was one of eight teams left standing.

It’s a magical run none of those players have ever forgotten.

“Along with just being a cool thing to say you made it to state, it gives you that thought anything is possible,” Quincy senior point guard Aaron Shoot said. “It gives you the encouragement it can be done. No one thought we were going to do it in eighth grade. No one thinks we’re going to do it now. So it can be done.”

Making that happen begins Tuesday.

Quincy (21-4) is seeded second in its sub-sectional behind Belleville West (25-2) and will be the top-seeded team in the Quincy Regional. The Blue Devils will face either sixth-seeded Collinsville (16-13) or 10th-seeded Springfield (10-17) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the regional semifinals at Blue Devil Gym.

Third-seeded Alton (15-11) and fifth-seeded Chatham Glenwood (19-11) will meet in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The championship will be played at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Blue Devils expect to be there.

“We still have things to prove,” senior Ben Amos said. “I still have things to prove. A lot of people on our team still have things to prove. That way we remain motivated every day.”

Quincy hasn’t won a regional championship since 2009, has lost to Alton in the regional each of the past two years and hasn’t made a state tournament appearance since 1998. The last time the Blue Devils played in a super-sectional (2000) was the year the seniors were born.

The Blue Devils believe they’re due for postseason success.

“Everyone wants to keep this season alive as long as possible,” senior Jacob Ary said. “We believe we can do something special again.”

In many ways, they already have.

The Blue Devils won their 23rd Western Big Six Conference championship, reached the 20-victory plateau for the 52nd time in program history and were ranked seventh last week in the Class 4A state poll — the highest ranking since the 1991-92 team reached No. 3 in the 16-team Class AA poll.

More important, at least in Douglas’ mind, is that his team has competed. Quincy has won 18 of its last 20 games, losing in overtime to Lincoln and falling by three points in regulation to Webster Groves, the No. 4-ranked team in Missouri Class 5.

“One of the special things about this team is its mentality,” Douglas said. “It doesn’t matter who they see on the floor, they think they have a chance to win. It’s a great mentality to have. It’s held itself true throughout this season. There’s definitely an opportunity for us to make a run.”

They already have proven they’re capable of that.

“It’s always been in the back of our minds,” Shoot said. “We’ve always been proud of the fact we made it to state in eighth grade. Some people see that and think, ‘Oh, it was kind of a fluke.’ We’ve always had something different about us. We work well together, and we’re so close. That’s really what separates us from years past.”

Class 4A Quincy Regional

At Blue Devil Gym

Monday’s game

No. 6 Collinsville (16-13) vs. No. 10 Springfield (10-17), 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s game

No. 2 Quincy (21-4) vs. Collinsville-Springfield winner, 7 p.m.

Wednesday’s game

No. 3 Alton (15-12) vs. No. 5 Chatham Glenwood (19-11), 7 p.m.

Friday’s game

Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Blue Devils leave legacy with strong closing kick

SK Photography

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Feb. 23, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 23, 2018 11:55 pm

QUINCY — A loss Friday night wasn’t going to change what the Quincy High School boys basketball team had accomplished.

A victory meant a legacy.

Aaron Shoot wanted that as much as anyone.

The senior point guard scored the seventh-ranked Blue Devils’ final 16 points of the fourth quarter, helping stave off pesky Galesburg with a 51-41 victory in the Western Big Six Conference finale at Blue Devil Gym.

“I kind of got tired of the game being that close,” Shoot said. “I wanted to do everything within my power to kind of separate, whether that meant creating for my teammates or creating for myself.”

He created a historic moment as well.

The Blue Devils finish the WB6 slate with a 9-1 record, becoming the first of Quincy’s 23 conference championship teams to lose the league opener and then win nine straight games. The Blue Devils also finish the regular season at 21-4, the best record going into the postseason since the 1999-2000 team went 21-4 before finishing 25-5.

“This is something I’ve been dreaming about coming to every game since I was a little kid,” senior forward Collin Tenhouse said. “It’s awesome.”

Tenhouse played a critical role in helping the Blue Devils gain necessary separation.

After the Silver Streaks’ Cornell Dotson made two free throws with 4:28 to play and cut the deficit to 38-37, Tenhouse thwarted the next two Galesburg possessions. He picked up a steal off a Jirehl Brock deflection and got the ball into the hands of Shoot, who beat Silver Streaks guard Nicholas Fields off the dribble and scored on a drive down the right side of the lane.

Another deflection in the backcourt ended up as a Tenhouse steal, and he fed Shoot for an uncontested layup and a 44-37 lead that forced Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds to call a timeout with 3:37 to play.

“At that point, I just took it all in,” said Tenhouse, who had four steals, three assists and two rebounds. “The crowd was all standing. It was just a great feeling.”

His teammates sensed it, too.

“That was that moment where you can kind of sit back, relax, soak it all in and take it all in,” Shoot said.

And Shoot did the rest. After Galesburg (21-10, 5-5 WB6) cut the deficit to three, Shoot scored on a backdoor layup off a Brock feed from the high post. He scored through contact of a drive to the basket and completed the three-point play.

He capped it with two free throws with 25 seconds left and walked off the floor with the rest of the seniors to thunderous applause.

Shoot finished with 23 points and six assists, making 5 of 5 shots from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

“When you have a guy like Shoot, who is the best player in the league, at least the guy who has played the best in my opinion and our coaches’ opinions, you can control the ball,” Reynolds said. “When you can control the ball, you can control the game. That’s a great feeling as a coach.”

Quincy coach Andy Douglas relishes it.

“He’s one of Quincy’s best point guards,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you are lucky to have him. You can put the ball in his hands, and he does everything.”

The Blue Devils needed the tide turned.

Quincy committed 11 turnovers and shot just 28.6 percent in the first half but was able to squeeze out a 22-20 lead as Jaeden Smith hit consecutive 3-pointers to erase a six-point deficit. Jacob Ary’s 3-pointer from the right corner in the final minute of the half gave the Blue Devils the lead.

They trailed only once in the second half — 26-25 with 2:45 to go in the third quarter — before Brock and Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers for separation.

“At one point, Jaeden was like, ‘We’ve got you, Coach. We’ve got you,'” Douglas said. “When they needed to make plays, they came up big and they made them.”

It was needed. Leaving a legacy required it.

Handling the Pressure: Blue Devils’ Ary never let brain condition deter love for game

Quincy High School basketball player Jacob Ary poses for a picture Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in the Blue Devils locker room. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Feb. 17, 2018 8:20 pm Updated: Feb. 17, 2018 11:58 pm

QUINCY — The cookies were a sweet reward Jacob Ary and his teammates hungrily gobbled up.

That likely would have been the case regardless of whether the Quincy High School boys basketball team had beaten Rock Island in overtime on the road, but the fact the Blue Devils coupled a significant Western Big Six Conference victory with Jacob’s pending 18th birthday made the night complete.

“And they were really good cookies,” point guard Aaron Shoot said.

Diane Ary laughed when she learned her home-made cookies had become newsworthy.

“I enjoy making those for the boys,” she said.

It has become somewhat of a tradition. Since Jacob started playing basketball with the Lil’ Devils program in fourth grade, his birthday (December 3) has fallen in the vicinity of a game.

“She always has cookies ready,” Jacob said. “You could count on it.”

She wasn’t just baking cookies for the ride home this time. She was celebrating a life that has become an inspiration.

“It was kind of a sentimental weekend,” Diane said. “Who would have dreamed 18 years later this was happening? You just feel so blessed and thankful. You’re just thankful. With everything going on in the world, and every time I hear the national anthem played at a game, I can’t help but think how thankful and blessed all of us are and how much we have to be thankful for.

“Seeing Jacob on the floor, playing a game he loves, doing what he wants to do, it’s emotional. And I’m thankful he has that chance.”

Sitting in St. Louis Children’s Hospital 18 years ago as their newborn son underwent brain surgery, Diane and Joe Ary had no way of knowing if that chance would ever exist.

‘It was bad, but each day got better’

Certain birthdays are a right of passage. You get a driver’s license at 16. You earn the right to vote at 18, and you legally can consume alcohol at 21.

The significance of that wasn’t lost on Jacob as he turned 18.

“You take a moment to understand what everything means,” he said. “It probably means way more to (my parents) than it means to me. When it was a serious problem, I was too young to know what was going on. They had the scare. I didn’t have the scare.”

Complications during Jacob’s birth resulted in head trauma that caused a condition called hydrocephalus, an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain that causes increased pressure inside the skull. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about two out of every 1,000 newborns suffer hydrocephalus, also called “water on the brain.”

At just six days old, Jacob underwent surgery to have a VP shunt placed in his brain to relieve the pressure.

“It was so scary,” Diane said. “I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. At that time, I thought he wasn’t going to make it. They told us he had to have surgery to live. I kept thinking, ‘He’s not going to make it.’ I was sick myself. I made myself sick worrying.

“The medical papers we saw said Jacob had the most severe case of hydrocephalus they had ever seen. They kept telling us, ‘Be prepared. There’s probably been some brain damage. You’ll have to watch his progression both physically and mentally.'”

It had been a long time since the Arys had been parent of a newborn, so they were unsure of his development and if he was on schedule.

“It was simple things like smiling or rolling over,” Diane said. “I was trying to think, ‘Is that normal?’ You worry about things you don’t really remember how they should go.”

Hearing those stories amazes Jacob.

“It sounded like absolutely craziness,” he said. “My sisters (Danielle and Katie) had to go and live with some of our family, while my mom and dad had to be in the hospital in St. Louis while I went through the surgery. It had to take a huge toll on them.”

Actually, it taught them a valuable lesson.

“The one thing I learned was you don’t sweat the small stuff anymore,” Diane said. “It was bad, but each day got better.”

‘It was everyday life’

Jacob showed no signs of developmental disabilities, either physical or intellectual, but hurdles remained to be cleared, especially because he fell in love with playing sports.

“He’s a fanatic,” Diane said.

That created more worries. Jacob had to be cognizant of head trauma because the shunt was placed inside the skull and brain. If the shunt was damaged, surgery would be required to have a new shunt installed. In those circumstances, the broken shunt is not removed, but is left as part of the brain.

“We were told he should not be playing any contact sports,” Diane said. “I was like, ‘What are we going to do?’ I was trying to enforce that to new luck. My husband was like, ‘How are you going to control this?’ He just said, ‘Let him be who he is. Let him do what he can do.’

“Jacob was going to do what he wanted to do. His mind was set, and he wasn’t going to let anyone stop him. He was just determined that he was going to be like everybody else.”

That’s how he always viewed himself.

“I was normal just like everybody else action-wise, but I always knew I had this in me,” Jacob said. “You knew you had it. You knew what the risks were. It was everyday life.”

That meant playing sports and being adventurous the way boys are.

“Honestly, I didn’t think anything about being normal or not normal,” Jacob said. “I had a normal childhood. Nothing was really different other than playing contact sports. When I was growing up, my dad told me one doctor said I’d be able to play any sport I wanted. Then we got a new doctor, and he was a little more cautious. He said you could play soccer and baseball, but basketball and football should be out.

“We took that as, ‘Hey, this kid really likes basketball, so we’re going to let him play basketball.'”

He did so much more, mainly because his friends cut him no slack.

“You could have come over to our house when we were in third grade, and we would have been wrestling with him just as hard as we were wrestling with everybody else,” Shoot said. “He’s just one of us.”

“No one looks at him as different than anyone else,” QHS senior forward Ben Amos said. “Why would we?”

They don’t let him use hydrocephalus as an excuse in any circumstance.

“Some of them have been a little more protective in certain scenarios,” Jacob said. “The vast majority of the time, they are like, ‘Ahh, you’re fine.'”

That’s how he wanted to be treated.

‘Being part of a family’

Jacob understood his condition meant certain limitations.

Playing football never was an option, but he wasn’t going to stand for being told he couldn’t play basketball — not after falling in love with the sport.

“Coming here to Baldwin (Middle School) my fourth grade year and being on that Lil’ Devils team, starting to make friends who all loved basketball, you start enjoying it just as much as everyone else,” Ary said. “At that time, I was still a seasonal sports player, but as you get older, you begin to realize you’re better at a certain sport.

“That’s when you put more effort into it, and that’s when it becomes your favorite sport.”

No one, not even a doctor, could talk him out of giving it up.

“Basketball is something I never thought about quitting,” Jacob said.

It actually inspired him to work harder.

As a junior on the QHS basketball team, Jacob played limited minutes. He played in nine games and scored 15 points, but he believed he could help the Blue Devils this season. Jacob worked with Matt Pugh, a coach and trainer with Pure Sweat Basketball Skills, during the offseason. The drills they did created better footwork, a more consistent outside shot and the tenacity to play every possession aggressively.

“You compete in those 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 drills, and that makes you more competitive in practice and in games,” Jacob said. “I had to make sure I could knock down shots. I always knew I was one of the more successful offensive players, but I knew it all came down to defense. If I wanted to play and be a factor, I had to bring it on defense.

“And knock down shots obviously.”

He has done both consistently well.

Jacob come off the bench to score 13 points and hit two clutch 3-pointers in the 56-53 overtime victory at Rock Island. He is now the first player off the bench and is averaging 5.2 points per game while shooting 44.2 percent from 3-point range. He’s been named the team’s defensive player of the week twice.

“He bought in to what we needed him to do to play defense and give us energy on that end of the floor,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “He’s always been able to shoot and knock down shots, but you have to be able to defend. You have to be able to help your teammates and trust them so they trust you. Jacob has been doing all those things. I’m proud of the way he’s made himself into a player that belongs on the floor.”

That’s all Jacob has wanted.

“It all started really in sixth grade,” he said. “Basketball in fourth and fifth grade was fun, but it didn’t really become a matter of wanting my high school career to be phenomenal until sixth grade. That was when it became a dream to get out there and be a part of a great team.”

He’s part of a team that won the Western Big Six Conference championship for the third straight season.

“Being on this basketball team, and it’s been this way since I was a freshman, is being part of a family,” Ary said.

A normal life

The worries for the Arys have subsided for the most part. There have been occasional moments of consternation, but for the most part, they have learned to go with the flow.

Two years ago during an annual checkup, a neurosurgeon discovered Jacob’s shunt apparatus had broken. However, Jacob didn’t need further surgery.

“It separated,” Jacob said. “Either it got caught, or I grew too big. I could never feel anything was different.”

There were no negative symptoms or consequences because of the break. Doctors decided there was no immediate need to replace the shunt.

“There’s probably too many nerves intertwined with it,” Jacob said. “Part of it is in the skull. It would be too much and too expensive for surgery. It’s better to leave it in.”

Doctors are optimistic Jacob no longer has hydrocephalus.

“I was always told from a very young age there was a good chance I would need it all my life,” Jacob said. “At one point, it was like, ‘Does he really need it?’ The doctor kind of got mad and frustrated and was like, ‘Of course, he needs it.’ That was a year or two before it broke.

“It’s kind of cool to know it’s basically done with.”

He can move forward with a normal life, though Jacob laughs at that notion. He believes all he ever has been is normal.

“It’s inspiring really,” Shoot said. “He’s such a hard worker. He never lets that condition get him down. He never saw himself as different, so neither did we. It’s just inspiring.”

It’s been uplifting for his parents.

“Everybody has a burden or something they are dealing with in their life,” Diane said. “Everybody is overcoming obstacles to get where they’re going in their life. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal.”

What the future holds is a big deal. Jacob ranked 37th academically in a graduating class of 427 at the end of his junior. He plans to study business and finance in college. He isn’t sure what to do with such a degree, but his determination to succeed won’t stop when his basketball career does.

“To know you have parents who push you every day to make sure you succeed in life, it’s great,” Jacob said. “I’m blessed to have the life I do.”

Dominant second quarter helps Blue Devils win 20th game

GENEVA, Ill. — Jaeden Smith and the Quincy High School boys basketball team couldn’t have drawn up a more perfect second quarter.

Clinging to an 8-point lead after the first quarter, Smith and the Blue Devils wanted to get more cushion between them and Geneva.

They knew what they had to do.

“Our team thrives on our defense,” Smith said. “When we’re playing well defensively, we play well offensively.”

Boy, did they play well defensively.

Quincy limited Geneva to just four points in the quarter, forced seven turnovers, held the Vikings to 1 of 8 shooting from the field and held them scoreless for the final 5 minutes, 37 seconds of the half.

“We were pumped,” Smith said. “We were definitely happy with holding them scoreless during that timespan.”

It led Quincy to a 63-55 victory over Geneva on Saturday night at Contest Gym.

“I think our guys played (the 1-2-2 zone) as well as we have all year long,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “I thought our energy was great. Guys were communicating. It looked like they were having fun playing defense, and that’s what we like to see as coaches.”

Geneva’s Kross Garth sunk a pair of free throws with 5:37 left in the first half to cut Quincy’s lead to 24-16. After that, Quincy’s 1-2-2 zone broke down Geneva. The Blue Devils forced steals on the Vikings’ next five possessions. Geneva had another turnover and missed their last five shots of the half. Geneva was held scoreless for a 7:32 span that started in the second quarter and lasted until the third quarter.

Smith and Jirehl Brock sparked the Quincy offense. Smith scored five points, Brock added four and Colin Tenhouse added a layup to give Quincy a 35-18 lead at the half. Brock led the Blue Devils (20-4) with 17 points. Smith added 15, Aaron Shoot had 14 and Ben Amos scored 11.

“I love when teammates are hitting shots, because then it feels good when I put them up,” Smith said. “When our teammates hit, I just feel like I can hit, too, to go along with them.”

Geneva (17-11) had its hall of fame induction ceremony at halftime, but the extended break didn’t bother the Blue Devils. Brock got a steal on Geneva’s first possession and converted it into a layup. It was one of three steals for Brock.

After Geneva’s Jack McDonald hit a jumper, the Blue Devils went on a 16-5 run that gave them a 53-25 lead, their biggest of the night.

“There’s been a few times this season when (in the) third quarter, we let up and let the team come up in the third quarter, and then in the fourth quarter, we picked it up,” Brock said. “We knew that we couldn’t do that tonight.”

Geneva’s bench made things interesting late, closing the game on an 18-2 run.

“I thought we did a really good job of bringing energy,” Douglas said. “These guys did a good job of setting the tempo defensively, and it led to some good offense.”

Blue Devils make sure WB6 title is all their own

Quincy’s Jacob Ary (5) pumps his fist after Quincy made a shot as time expired in the first half during a high school boys’ basketball game between United Township and Quincy at United Township High School Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, in East Moline. BRIAN ACHENBACH / Staff

Special to The Herald-Whig

Posted: Feb. 17, 2018 12:05 am

EAST MOLINE, Ill. — With the third quarter winding down and the opportunity to clinch the team’s first outright Western Big Six Conference title since 2007, the Quincy High School boys basketball team found its moment.

Leading United Township by two points, Quincy’s Ben Amos hit a trey as the third quarter buzzer sounded. The spark of momentum continued as the Blue Devils outscored the Panthers by 10 points in the fourth quarter en route to a title-clinching 56-41 win at the Panther Den.

Jaeden Smith hit three of his seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, when he scored 11 of his game-high 24 points for Class 4A’s 10th-ranked team.

“The momentum came our way when Ben hit that three,” Smith saidof Amos, who scored all seven of his points in the second half. “We just played great as a team (in the fourth quarter) and all-around, everyone was just clicking.”

Smith said his performance broke him out of a personal shooting slump. He made 7 of 11 from deep, and the team shot 11-for-21. Quincy (19-4, 8-1 WB6) shot 8 of 11 from the field in the final frame.

Smith said it felt “amazing” to clinch the outright title after sharing it the past two years.

“We definitely deserve this title, and even though they said we would finish third, we finished on the top,” Smith said. “We just worked hard all season to get our goal.”

Following a 62-28 loss at Moline without Aaron Shoot to start WB6 play on Dec. 1, Quincy has won eight straight in conference. Shoot scored seven points.

Quincy coach Andy Douglas is proud of the run his team has been on in WB6 play.

“It’s never easy in this conference,” said Douglas. “But I’m really proud of this group. They’ve exceeded a lot of people’s expectations, including ours in some areas. They played really well this season.”

For UT (12-14, 2-7), outside of Jean Luc Wilson’s 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, the rest of the Panthers shot 7 of 28. Delaney Little had six points and Shamar Grant scored five.

“It’s a make-or-miss game, and they get a buzzer-beater in the first quarter and the third quarter,” UT coach Ryan Webber said. “And we can’t capitalize from the free-throw line.”

UT was 6 of 13 at the line. Quincy’s pressure also played a factor in UT’s 12 turnovers. UT shot 15 of 41 from the field overall.

“We weren’t very sharp with the ball to start the fourth quarter and they made us pay,” said Webber, who said Wilson seemed to be the only guy who brought the extra competitive energy needed on Friday night. “We were kind of begging guys at halftime to join him. And I was really proud of the way he was competing out there. We just needed more guys to help him.”

Quincy 56, United Township 41

Brock blocks Rocks: Blue Devils clinch WB6 tie with final defensive stand

Rock Island’s Jayden Tucker steals the ball from QHS’ Aaron Shoot at Blue Devil Gym on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane Jake Shane 1|

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Feb. 9, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 9, 2018 11:50 pm

QUINCY — Everything the Quincy High School boys basketball team discussed during a timeout with 7.6 seconds remaining in regulation Friday night and a one-point lead over Rock Island centered around one notion.

“We were just trying to get them to shoot the worst possible shot,” Quincy point guard Aaron Shoot said.

That wasn’t going to be easy.

“We knew (Rock Island coach) Thom Sigel over there is a genius with the whiteboard,” Shoot said. “He can draw up some of the best plays I’ve seen.”

What Sigel drew up worked. After Rocky senior forward Ben Ellis set a screen, he slipped free into the middle of the lane and caught the inbounds pass only a short jumper from the basket.

Then Jirehl Brock got in the way.

The QHS junior guard blocked Ellis’ shot, hammering the ball to the ground and sending Quincy running toward the other end of the floor with the rebound. Shoot then made a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds left to cement a 40-37 victory in Western Big Six Conference action at Blue Devil Gym.

“I told them to guard,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said of his discussion in the huddle with the Blue Devils leading 38-37. “We’ve had some inbounds defensive plays where we just look like we’re looking up at the ceiling when you need a stop. I told them to find someone, be physical, communicate through screens and be tough. They were.”

None were tougher than Brock.

“Another Jirehl play,” Douglas said. “Just another Jirehl play.”

That play doesn’t get made if Ben Amos doesn’t hold his ground.

The 6-foot-5 senior forward was guarding Ellis man-to-man, and instead of fouling Ellis as he caught the ball, Amos stayed flat-footed and extended his arms straight up. It forced Ellis to adjust before attempting the shot.

“He changed his shot to where the ball was presented for me,” Brock said. “That’s where I came in with the block.”

That’s what foiled Sigel’s plan.

“It was a little slip action that we can run against man or zone,” Sigel said. “That was the play we wanted. The result wasn’t quite what we thought it was going to be.”

Nor was the result of the other WB6 game played Friday night.

United Township handed Moline its third straight loss, beating the Maroons 57-54 to give Quincy no worse than a share of its 23rd conference championship. The Blue Devils (17-4, 7-1 WB6) have a two-game lead in the loss column with games remaining at United Township next week and at home against Galesburg in the regular-season finale.

Getting to this point took resiliency and ingenuity.

Quincy trailed 20-16 at halftime after being held scoreless the final 4 minutes, 55 seconds of the first half. Another two-minute drought at the end of the third quarter put the Blue Devils in a 33-24 hole. Jayden Tucker’s pull-up jumper with two seconds left in the third quarter gave the Rocks their biggest lead.

However, the Rocks (12-10, 4-3 WB6) turned the ball over on the first two possessions of the fourth quarter and the Blue Devils converted on both to ignite the comeback.

Amos scored the second basket off an assist from Shoot, was fouled and made the free throw. Amos didn’t have a touch in the post in the second quarter, but responded with seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. That included a critical offensive rebound and putback to make it a two-point game with 4:07 to play.

“That’s one of the reasons they jumped on us in the first half,” said Shoot, who had 13 points and two assists. “We kind of got away from going to him. It wasn’t intentional. It just kind of happened. All week in practice we knew he’d a be a key. Once we started going back to him, it all started coming together.”

Amos tied the game at 36 with a layup with 2:45 to play. JaMir Price gave the Rocks back the lead by splitting two free throws with 2:08 to go before Quincy’s Jaeden Smith made his only basket of the night, stepping into a 19-foot jumper with 1:45 to go for a 38-37 advantage.

Quincy, which had switched from its traditional 1-2-2 zone to man-to-man a couple of times in the fourth quarter, went back to the man-to-man in the final minute and forced Rocky to turn the ball over on two of its final three possessions.

The Rocks committed seven of their 15 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

“That man-to-man pressure kind of rattled them,” Shoot said.

The Blue Devils sensed that.

“We got out of our zone, which we’re not always comfortable doing,” Douglas said. “But I’m confident they can do it. We go into the huddle after we tied the game up and I asked them, ‘Are you comfortable in man or zone?’ All five guys yelled, ‘Man, man, man. Stay in man.’ It’s easy from a coach’s standpoint to go with what they trust. I trust these guys, and they were able to pull it out.”