Solid as a Brock: Steal, slam turns tide for Blue Devils

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 26, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 27, 2019 3:12 pm

QUINCY — Perry Cowan delivered what could have been a lethal blow to any hope the Quincy High School boys basketball team had of rewriting history.

Then Jirehl Brock authored another memorable moment.

The senior guard stole a pass at the top of the key and raced in for a breakaway dunk on the first possession of overtime, changing the tone of what turned out to be a 64-52 victory over DePaul College Prep in Saturday night’s marquee game of the Quincy Shootout at Blue Devil Gym.

Cowan forced the extra session moments earlier when he buried a 3-pointer from just to the right of the top of the key with 2.5 seconds left in regulation.

“Everybody was kind of down,” Brock said. “When you have a three-point lead with that little amount of time left, you think you’re going to win the game. Then they hit a three, and you go to overtime. You don’t know what can happen in overtime.

“You’re kind of down, but I think my team responded well.”

It started with a snatch and a slam.

“Usually the person to get the first punch in overtime takes it over,” said Brock, who finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. “That happened. We needed it. We needed it to win this game.”

The Blue Devils felt the surge one play created.

“It picks up everyone’s energy overall,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said. “I was hyped after that. Everyone else picked it up defensively, and I thought we did well staying in it.”

Smith needed that as much as anyone.

Quincy went ahead 48-46 with 42.9 seconds remaining in regulation as Smith hit a pair of free throws. Brock came up with a deflection and steal on DePaul College Prep’s ensuing possession, and Smith was fouled with 17.1 seconds remaining.

An 85 percent free-throw shooter who had made 39 of his last 41 attempts, Smith made the first free throw but missed the second. The Rams’ Pavle Pantovic grabbed the rebound and DePaul Prep called timeout with 10.7 seconds remaining.

It allowed them to set up the play for Cowan, the NCAA Division I recruit headed to Brown University who scored a game-high 22 points and tied the game on his only 3-point attempt.

“We set up two different plays in the huddle,” DePaul Prep coach Tom Kleinschmidt said. “We thought they might foul and not let us get a shot off, but they didn’t. They let us play, and we were able to get a good look for Perry.”

It was like a dagger.

“I was down on myself,” said Smith, who made 10 of 12 from the line and finished with 13 points. “If I would have made that free throw, the game would have been sealed.”

He did that in overtime, going 6 of 6 from the line.

“I definitely wasn’t going to miss in overtime,” Smith said. “I missed in regulation, so I had to fix it.”

The Blue Devils fixed a couple of other things with the victory.

First, they figured out how to win a close game. Of Quincy’s 10 losses this season, nine have been by six points or less, including Friday night’s four-point loss at Moline.

They avenged the only loss in program history to DePaul Prep. Known as Gordon Tech in 1990 when the teams met in the Class AA state semifinals, the Rams won by nine points as Kleinschmidt scored 38 points.

Adding intrigue to this rematch, event organizers invited Todd Wemhoener and Kevin Bybee, members of the 1990 Quincy team, to be honorary coaches. The Blue Devils also wore their alternate jerseys with the sleeves, just like the 1990 team wore.

“I think it just shows our guys that they can,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “They are more than capable of being able to compete against the top competition we’ve seen all season long. Hard work pays off. I don’t want to sound cliche, but it does.”

Quincy 64, DePaul College Prep 52

Blue Devils go down fighting in Moline

Quincy’s Lucas Reis (3) gives Adonte Crider (5) a high-five during their Western Big 6 matchup against Moline at Wharton House Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Moline. Meg McLaughlin/mmclaughlin@qconl

By JEFF WENDLAND
Special to The Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 25, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 25, 2019 11:20 pm

MOLINE — There is a reason the Moline Maroons are in the midst of a 12-game winning streak and leading the Western Big 6 Conference by two games.

They know how to making winning plays.

“We know how to stay composed late in games and find a way to win,” Moline senior Deonte Billups said after the Maroons held off Quincy 67-63 on Friday night at Wharton Field House. “We do it together as a team.”

With 6:13 left in the game, the Maroons (19-2, 7-0 WB6) led the Blue Devils (7-10, 2-3) 50-42. Quincy whittled the lead down to 55-53 when the big plays started coming.

º Brody Harding, who had missed six of seven 3-pointers at the time, buried a triple from the top of the key.

º After Quincy cut the lead to 58-55, Drew Wiemers knocked down a three from the wing to make it a six-point game.

º After a three-point play by Quincy’s Jirehl Brock, Wiemers got free on a two-on-one break, drew a defender his way and made a beautiful pass to Treyon Lamphier for a layup to make it 63-58.

º Finally, Billups hit two key free throws with 18 seconds left with the Maroons leading by just one point.

“I’m proud of our guys. They never stopped battling,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “If a couple of calls go the other way or we make a couple of big shots, this could have been a different outcome.”

One of those key times came late in the third quarter with the Blue Devils trailing by four points. Jaeden Smith had a great look at a 3-pointer but missed. The Devils got an offensive rebound, and Jeremiah Talton had an open three that wouldn’t go down. Another offensive rebound wound up in the hands of Smith, and another three was just off the mark.

“You look at it and if one of those 3s go down, we are within one and plenty of time left,” Douglas said. “Then, the other way, they come up with two huge shots by Harding and Wiemers that really hurt. What’s bad about those shots is we left both of them wide open.”

The two threes by Moline in the closing minutes came on a night when it made just seven of 24 3-point shots.

“We went inside to start the second half, and that opens up the inside/outside threat,” Moline coach Sean Taylor said. “Brody hit the one from up top and Drew hit the one from the wing because Quincy had to defend the inside.

“This game is what we have been doing the last four or five games where we are not as consistent as we want to be. We need to have better offensive and defensive possessions with the lead.”

That inside presence in the second half was huge.

After Moline build a double-digit lead in the early stages of the second quarter, Quincy got back within four at the half.

Billups (29 points, 14 rebounds and three assists) took over inside in the third quarter and dominated the paint. Wiemers (19 points, nine rebounds) followed suit with solid inside presence.

“Our rebounding was horrible, I thought,” Douglas said. “We would get a nice defensive stop, and they would get the rebound and score. Billups is so good in the lane at getting to the offensive glass and keeping the ball alive. You just can’t give up second-chance points like that. We made it way too easy for him to get in the paint.”

Smith led four Blue Devils in double figures with 17 points. Brock added 12, Talton 11 and Adonte Crider 10. Lucas Reis contributed nine points, six rebounds and seven assists.

“Lucas was adamant that he wanted the ball and took care of it,” Douglas said. “He drove to the basket when it was there, and when we were on the break, he did a great job of dishing it out for baskets or open shots.

“Our young guys are really growing up fast. They are growing mentally tougher and learning to play in those tough minutes.”

Moline 67, Quincy 63

Short-handed Blue Devils finally overcome adversity

Quincy High’s Jaeden Smith, center, takes a shot over Galesburg’s Mitchel Sampson and Rylee Milan at Blue Devil Gym on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 18, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 19, 2019 1:05 am

QUINCY — Coming oh-so-close finally gave way to getting over the hump.

It happened on a night when the Quincy High School boys basketball team easily could have given in to all the adversity it faced.

Instead, the Blue Devils erased Galesburg’s advantage inside with tenacity and physical play on defense, leading to a 62-56 Western Big Six Conference victory at Blue Devil Gym that marked the first time this season they’ve won a teeter-totter affair.

“Maturity was the key,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “The character they showed is what we need.”

It was put to the test before the Blue Devils (7-9, 2-2 WB6) took the floor.

They knew they would be playing without senior guard Jirehl Brock, who is in Hawaii to participate in the Polynesian Bowl all-star football game. Earlier this week, Quincy also lost junior reserve forward Zarious Smith-Palmer for the remainder of the season because of a violation of team rules.

Couple that with getting outrebounded 20-12 in the first half and trailing 26-24 at halftime after seeing an eight-point lead evaporate, and it was a recipe for disaster.

“We knew we were down a couple of assets that we needed, but we had guys play their hearts out,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said.

“Nobody was scared out there.”

The Blue Devils’ resolve showed.

They were down 36-32 after going six scoreless times in a seven-possession stretch of the third quarter, but they held Galesburg to two field goals over an eight-possession stretch and took a 42-39 lead with a little more than six minutes remaining in regulation.

The Silver Streaks (11-8, 1-4 WB6) shot just 40.8 percent from the field.

“They played through contact, and we shied away from contact,” Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds said. “If you shy away from contact in a Big 6 game, this is what happens. They made winning plays down the stretch.

“We missed shots like we would in practice with somebody banging a pad on us in practice. We couldn’t play through contact. That’s a good way to get beat on the road.”

It didn’t help that the Silver Streaks squandered their advantage on the boards.

Galesburg had seven offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points in the first half, while the Blue Devils had only one offensive rebound.

In the second half, though, the Blue Devils outrebounded the Silver Streaks by three, grabbed seven offensive boards and had eight second-chance points.

“They were killing us on the glass,” Douglas said. “We were slow getting to them a couple times. A couple times they weren’t even getting hit. So we challenged their toughness at halftime, and they responded.”

The most important offensive board didn’t lead to any second-chance points, but it was part of the most pivotal sequence of the fourth quarter.

Quincy guard Adonte Crider rebounded his own miss and was fouled charging back into the lane. He missed the front end of the 1-and-1, but made amends with a steal on Galesburg’s ensuing possession and feeding Lucas Reis for a layup. Crider stole a pass on the next possession and scored a layup in transition for a 50-44 lead that forced Reynolds to call a timeout with 3:08 to go.

“Coach always tells me when something goes bad to maintain your character,” Crider said. “If something goes bad, turn it into something good. I kept my composure and gave my guys everything I had.”

Crider finished with 13 points, nine in the fourth quarter.

“We need him to be a key guy for us, whether he’s scoring or not,” Douglas said. “He has to make plays on the defensive end.”

The Blue Devils salted the victory away by making 10 of 14 free throws in the final 1:33. Smith made 10 of 11 overall and 7 of 8 in the fourth quarter, finishing with a season-high 27 points.

“We work on free throws every day in practice,” Smith said. “We know who are good free throw shooters are, and we got them the ball.”

They made it in the victory column for the first time in 2019.

“We needed it,” Crider said. “We needed something positive to build from.”

Quincy 62, Galesburg 56

Blue Devils can’t cash in on chance to upset Missouri’s No. 1-ranked team

 

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 5, 2019 12:10 am

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — The determination the Quincy High School boys basketball team continues to put on display is being undone by the lack of a finishing touch in clutch moments.

Friday night was another example.

The Blue Devils trailed Webster Groves, the two-time defending Missouri Class 5 state champion and the Show-Me State’s No. 1-ranked team, by two points with 21.9 seconds remaining in regulation and had possession of the ball. Instead of settling for a contested 3-pointer, Quincy attacked the paint and got two quality looks within 5 feet of the basket.

Jeremiah Talton’s shot off dribble penetration rimmed out, and Lucas Reis’ putback attempt was hard off the backboard. The Statesmen cleared the second rebound and made two of four free throws in the final five seconds to cement a 56-52 victory at Roberts Gym.

“We had a lot of opportunities,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said. “We have to be more tough. We have to execute the right sets and get the right shot at the right time.

“We never want to settle for less and get over the hump when we know we can win against these high-caliber teams.”

Quincy (6-8) has seven losses this season by six points or less, and the time for moral victories has passed.

“That’s kind of the message we’re trying to send to these guys,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “We can’t be complacent. We can’t look back after a loss and say, ‘Well, we’re playing a better team than us. They’re more talented. They’re more athletic. But we played hard and gave ourselves a chance at the end and it just didn’t work out.’

“That becomes old. We have to find ways to pull wins out. It’s a big obstacle we have to get over.”

It felt like the prime time to clear such a hurdle.

Coming off a 3-1 showing at the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic, the Blue Devils showed no fear of the Statesmen. Talton buried a 3-pointer from the corner on the game’s first possession, and two minutes into the second quarter, Quincy led 22-12.

However, Webster Groves (10-0) closed the half on a 10-0 run as Quincy went 0 of 8 from the field with four turnovers in the final six minutes. The Blue Devils didn’t commit a turnover in the game’s first 10 minutes.

“For some reason this season, we’ve been down 10 every game, so they’re used to that,” Webster Groves coach Jay Blossom said. “We came roaring back and got some stops, which made the difference.”

Tied at 22 at halftime, the Statesmen opened the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a 16-0 run.

“It felt like we were playing from behind the rest of the game,” Douglas said.

The Blue Devils responded and took a 32-31 lead on Jaeden Smith’s 3-pointer with 3:35 to go in the third quarter. The Statesmen scored on a putback on the next possession, took a 41-37 lead into the fourth quarter and never surrendered the advantage.

“It wasn’t easy all the way to the end,” Blossom said. “Quincy plays hard, and they crash the boards. We had to work hard until the very end to finish that off.”

The Blue Devils still made it interesting.

Trailing 53-49 after the Statesmen’s Amorey Womack missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 46.2 seconds to play, the Blue Devils ran Talton, who finished with 12 points, off a double screen at the top of the key. He buried the 3-pointer with 28.3 seconds left.

Webster Groves’ Malachy Simpson split a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession, and Quincy called timeout with 21.9 seconds left. The Blue Devils executed their offense and got two looks at the tying basket.

But in what has become the narrative of the season, neither fell.

“It’s going take everything we have to finish one off,” said Smith, who led the Blue Devils with 14 points. “It’s going to take more grit and more toughness.”

Webster Groves 56, Quincy 52

Matter of trust: Blue Devils gain confidence all around with strong finish

Quincy High School’s Adonte Crider drives to the basket against Belleville East’s Braxton Stacker during the consolation championship game of the 35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic. | Photo for the H-W/Jim Simmons

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 29, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 30, 2018 8:45 am

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — The most comforting and confidence-building aspect of Adonte Crider’s weekend was the fact the Quincy High School boys basketball coaching staff allowed him to play through his struggles.

It paid major dividends in the end.

Despite missing his first four 3-point attempts Saturday against Belleville East, Crider knocked down consecutive treys with two minutes remaining in the third quarter to turn a seemingly tight five-point lead into a nine-point bulge.

The Lancers never fully recovered, cutting the deficit to eight on a pair of occasions before the Blue Devils waltzed away with a 46-32 victory in the consolation championship game of the 35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic at Vergil Fletcher Gym.

“Coming into halftime, I knew my team needed more out of me,” said Crider, who had just four of his 14 points in the first half after going 6 of 26 from the field and 2 of 14 from 3-point range in Friday’s two games. “I don’t want to let my team down. So in my head, I’m like, ‘I know I have to do better.’ I come out and do whatever I can do to help the best I can.”

That boils down to trust, something the Blue Devils gained an abundance of throughout the tournament.

After a humbling loss to Edwardsville in Thursday’s opening round, Quincy strung together three dominant defensive efforts and headed home with three straight victories for the first time since winning the consolation championship in 2006.

That season, the Blue Devils rattled off 14 consecutive victories and ended up reaching a Class AA sectional championship game.

With his team sitting at 6-7, Quincy coach Andy Douglas isn’t going to draw any comparisons to the two teams or make any suggestions a similar run is coming. But he trusts the Blue Devils will put forth the kind of effort necessary to go on such a streak.

“In talking with our coaches, this weekend was all about trust,” Douglas said. “We had to be able to gain trust in Adonte that he’s going to have an rough offensive night but still be able to guard, that Lucas (Reis) is going to have turnovers but still be able to handle it the next possession.

“I think this was a great weekend for that because everyone gained a lot of trust in each other.”

And they trust their defense wholeheartedly.

Quincy finished as the best defensive team in the tournament, topping the field in points allowed (39.0), field goal defense (33.7 percent) and 3-point defense (18.6 percent).

As energetic as the Blue Devils played in Friday night’s 47-26 victory over Belleville Althoff, the defensive effort in the second half against Belleville East might have been better.

The Lancers went 0 of 6 from 3-point range, shot just 33 percent from the field and committed eight turnovers against just six field goals over the final 16 minutes. Overall, Belleville East committed 16 turnovers which led to 15 points for Quincy.

The Blue Devils also had a 10-2 advantage in fast-break points.

“I thought (Friday) was a turnaround game for us,” said Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith, who had 14 points and three assists and finished the tournament 16 of 16 from the free-throw line. “Althoff is going to win a bunch of games this year because they’re a good team and we shut them down. We shut Belleville East down in the second half. Coach was on us in the first half about leaving shooters open.

“They didn’t make many, fortunately for us. But we locked them down in the second half.”

And locked up some necessary victories with a slew of tough road games on the horizon.

“I’m proud of the growth we made,” Douglas said. “We came into the tournament rough. It could go one of two ways after that, but we used it as a moment to grow. That’s been our motto ever since I’ve been here, but this group needed to see it happen. I’m proud of the growth from the first game on.”

35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic

Quincy 46, Belleville East 32

Talton sacrifices body for betterment of Blue Devils

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 29, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 30, 2018 8:46 am

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — The number of Gatorades the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s coaching staff owes Jeremiah Talton is beginning to creep into Jaeden Smith territory.

Could there be a new king of the charge in the Blue Devils’ locker room?

“I shift my guys towards (Talton) because I know he can take charges,” said Smith, the senior guard who led the Blue Devils in charges taken as a sophomore with 16 and drew eight more a year ago, earning a Gatorade from the coaches for each charge taken. “He’s been doing that very well.”

Talton, a 6-foot-4 freshman forward, drew two charges Saturday against Belleville East during a seven-possession stretch in which the Lancers failed to score a field goal and the Blue Devils turned a two-point game into an eight-point advantage.

The end result was a 46-32 victory in the consolation championship game of the 35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic and the third straight game in which the Blue Devils held an opponent to 39 points or fewer.

“Defense leads to energy on offense for us,” Talton said. “Getting stops leads to scoring. To be able to do that consistently is a pretty big deal.”

Tide-turning moments like taking a charge raise the energy in an infinite manner.

Talton hadn’t taken a charge in the first eight games, but he drew two in the victory against Washington that preceded the trip to Collinsville. In the consolation semifinals against Belleville Althoff, Talton drew a charge on the Crusaders on the opening possession, setting the tone for a 14-2 opening salvo.

Add in the two against Belleville East and Talton looks increasingly comfortable in the defensive role.

“It’s putting your body on the line for the team,” Talton said. “Knowing it’s going to lead to more offensive possessions and bigger possessions in the game makes it worth it.”

A year ago, he admittedly wouldn’t have done it, but he’s grown used to the physical nature of varsity basketball even though his career is just 13 games old.

“After I took the first one, it was OK,” Talton said.

When he’s taken a second, a third, a fourth, etc., it’s delighted the coaching staff.

“I’m not sure Vegas had him taking more than two charges this year,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said with a chuckle. “That’s an area I know he’s been working on. He’s putting his body on the line for this team. That’s a huge commitment and sacrifice that he’s willing to make.”

Smith, Blue Devils get in perfect rhythm

 

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — Jaeden Smith is confident enough in his shooting touch that he never feels like he is forcing shots from the perimeter.

But there are moments he admits he doesn’t feel fully in rhythm.

“That’s when I’m missing shots,” Smith said. “It’s like I’m just throwing it up there.”

So what did Friday feel like?

“Like I was in rhythm,” Smith said.

Because he felt good, so did the Quincy High School boys basketball team. The Blue Devils won a pair of games in the 35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic, beating Oakville 62-39 and Belleville Althoff 47-26 to reach the consolation championship game Saturday against Belleville East.

Smith scored a game-high 25 points against the Tigers, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range. He followed it up with 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range against the Crusaders in what is unquestionably his best shooting day of the season.

“When I shoot it in rhythm, I find myself making it even more,” Smith said. “All day long, I found myself shooting really well because I was in rhythm with my shot.”

That was despite missing his first 3-point attempt against Oakville.

Smith responded by making his next three shots and scoring Quincy’s final eight points of the first quarter to give the Blue Devils a 20-10. He had 19 points at halftime, and then went 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in the second half to help salt away a victory.

“When he’s in rhythm, he’s the best shooter on the floor,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said.

Smith never lost his rhythm because he never tried to do too much.

“He was patient all the way throughout,” Douglas said. “Our guys did a great job all day long of getting him the ball in spots he could finish, and he was able to finish them off.”

That started with the first play against Althoff.

The Blue Devils won the tip and ran a play to get Smith the ball at the top of the key. When he came off a screen and caught the pass, he was wide open and made the shot that kickstarted an onslaught.

“Since I was so wide open, I had to make it,” Smith said with a smile.

That’s been a common refrain.

Smith heads into Saturday’s game against Belleville East with 124 career 3-pointers, just three shy of matching Kyle Cartmill’s career record.

“Most of the time when he shoots it, I know I don’t have to go after a rebound,” Brock said. “It takes a lot of pressure off me and a lot of pressure off us. After he shoots, we can just get back and get set defensively and press.

“When he’s on, he’s definitely on. That’s fun to see.”