Blue Devils bow out with another close loss

Photo credit to Matt Schuckman – Quincy Herald-Whig

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Feb. 28, 2019 12:30 am Updated: Feb. 28, 2019 2:21 am

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — The team that teetered on the edge of success all season found itself in a precarious position yet again Wednesday night. 

It couldn’t make the one play necessary to tilt the outcome in its favor. 

“That was us in a nutshell,” Quincy High School boys basketball coach Andy Douglas said after his team trimmed a nine-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to one but never took the lead in a 53-45 loss to Chatham Glenwood in the Class 4A Belleville West Regional semifinals. 

“We dug ourselves a hole, but fought like crazy to get it back. It came back to bite us in the end. That’s unfortunate because we’ve played so well and we’ve gotten over some of those things late in the season. This time, it came back to bite us.” 

It’s not the first time. Of the Blue Devils’ 12 losses, 11 were by eight points or less. 

“We stayed together no matter how down we got,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said. “Throughout the season, we were always there for each other. We always fought.” 

It’s how the Blue Devils (14-12) won seven of their final eight games of the regular season to ensure they’d finish with a winning record. 

It’s also why Wednesday’s effort was so frustrating. 

Quincy’s struggles rebounding — Glenwood grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and 13 overall — and getting crucial stops were inescapable. 

The Titans, who will face second-ranked Belleville West in Friday’s regional championship, fended off the Blue Devils with four second-chance points in succession in the fourth quarter and got six consecutive points from junior guard Luke Lehnen to turn a one-point lead into a seven-point bulge. 

“We made a couple runs and had chances to be in the game, but we gave it away in the second quarter and late in the fourth quarter,” Smith said. “That was the key to the game.” 

That came after Quincy rebounded from a crushing blow. 

Jirehl Brock turned a steal in the final seconds of the third quarter into a breakaway dunk to trim the deficit to 30-25, but he also was assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim with three seconds left in the quarter. 

Lehnen made 1 of 2 free throws, and Titans guard Jason Hansbrough hit an open 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer to make it a 34-25 advantage. 

“We struggled getting going offensively, and everything was difficult,” Douglas said. “(Glenwood) took care of the basketball against our pressure. It was off. Everything was a little off. Shots that normally drop didn’t drop. Steals or tips we normally get we didn’t come up with. That’s just how our night went.” 

After freshman Jeremiah Talton made two 3-pointers as part of an eight-point run to start the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils were on that edge of success again. 

Glenwood never folded. 

“We’ve been there this season, and we’ve weathered a few storms throughout the season,” Titans coach Todd Blakeman said. “You knew Quincy wasn’t going to die. I’m proud of the way our kids came back and handled themselves and stayed composed.” 

Class 4A Belleville West Regional 

Chatham Glenwood 53, Quincy 45

Rocks put Blue Devils away with clutch free throws

Special to the Whig
Posted: Feb. 8, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 8, 2019 11:30 pm

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – His shooting percentage suggests otherwise, but Rock Island senior Aaron Voss feels he’s in the same class of accurate free-throw shooters as Quincy High School sharpshooters Jaeden Smith (87.5 percent) and Lucas Reis (83.3 percent). 

“Every time I step to the line, I’m confident about the free throw going in,” Voss said, “whether it does or doesn’t. I don’t think about it. I just step up and shoot them.” 

Voss is just a 58-percent shooter from the stripe. However, in Friday’s 60-54 victory over Quincy in Western Big Six Conference play at Rock Island Fieldhouse, he was the most clutch one there. He finished with 17 points, hitting 5 of 7 free throws, all but one of those in the fourth quarter. 

“They had a couple of guys for them who stepped up and made shots,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “They have three key guys we were going to focus on, and they had other guys make shots for them. We’ve had the same thing for us. It’s one of those things.” 

The other to catch Douglas’ eye was Rocky’s last of five reserves. Jahmeir Robinson came on in the fourth quarter and hit a pair of 3-pointers to put the Rocks (15-9, 6-2 WB6) in a position to regain the lead after trailing 43-39 after three quarters. 

“Robinson was on our report,” Douglas noted, “but not one of the top guys.” 

Rock Island coach Thom Sigel, though, talked all about Voss in his postgame accolades. 

“It’s nice to see a guy, no matter what his role has been, where he takes the same approach. He’s there to compete, every night, whether it’s in practice or in a game,” Sigel said of Voss. “He set the tone.” 

Voss was rewarded with a career high in points, and was within four of his career-high in rebounds with eight. The free throws? They were right up there in his best of as well. 

“That was all on my teammates,” Voss said. “They found me. I was open, and they did the job of finding me.” 

Voss was extremely tough in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points and making his last four shots. 

Neither team had a lead of more than four in the first half. Quincy (10-11, 3-4 WB6) went up by five in the third, but Rock Island countered by going up 51-46 midway through the fourth. Rocky led 54-51 with 2:44 remaining, but the Rocks closed it out with free throws from Voss and JaMir Price (11 points). 

The Blue Devils, with a shorthanded bench because of injury and illness, played only six players, and had three of those play all 32 minutes. Brady Rupert came in for a couple of brief spurts to give Jeremiah Talton (12 points) and Reis a rest. Adonte Crider (17 points), Smith (12 points) and Jirehl Brock (seven rebounds) never got a breather. 

“I could tell we were fatigued late in the third quarter,” Douglas said. “It wasn’t where we normally see it, on the defensive end. We took some plays off offensively. 

“We played really well. We executed the game plan. We were good, we just weren’t good enough.” 

Rock Island outrebounded Quincy 32-17, while Solomon Gustafson also scored in double figures with 10 points, all in the first half. 

Rock Island 60, Quincy 54

Smith, Nicholson spark Blue Devils to weekend sweep

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Feb. 2, 2019 10:45 pm Updated: Feb. 2, 2019 11:55 pm

QUINCY — The atmosphere Saturday night felt as lackluster as the play.

Jaeden Smith did what was necessary to change that.

With the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s lead over Miller Career Academy bouncing between 11 and 15 points for most the third quarter, the Blue Devils couldn’t put a run together again to enliven the Blue Devil Gym faithful or gain the separation necessary to put everyone at ease.

“It felt like there wasn’t anything going on,” Smith said. “But we have to find a way to create our energy and just get it done.”

Smith decided to go on the attack.

He drew fouls on three separate drives to the basket, making all six free throws he earned, and the senior guard scored 13 straight points to push the Blue Devils advantage to 19 points with six minutes to play.

That was enough of a cushion to allow them to salt away a 71-51 victory and reach the .500 mark for the first time this season.

“I feel super comfortable taking it and dishing it off or getting fouled or finishing at the rim,” said Smith, who made nine of 10 free throws, scored a game-high 24 points and had four assists. “Whatever it takes when we need something good to happen. I felt like we responded and did that when we needed a push.”

It led to the Blue Devils’ first weekend sweep of the season, albeit in somewhat ugly fashion.

“We had two of them this weekend that were kind of ugly,” Smith said, referencing Friday night’s 60-48 victory over Rock Island Alleman. “We need to find a way to clean up our play better, but we found a way to clean it up in the end.”

Getting assistance from the bench helps.

Quincy (10-10) led by five points early in the second quarter when junior guard Payton Nicholson came off the bench and put together his best four-minute stretch of the season. His two steals, two assists, two rebounds and a field goal helped extend the lead to as many as 18 points before settling for a 13-point edge at halftime.

“I just come in and try to do my best defensively,” Nicholson said. “With Jirehl (Brock) normally at the point (on the 1-2-2 zone), I know when I come and in and take over at the point, I have to keep the energy up and cause some havoc.”

That effort came on the heels of a steal and three rebounds in a handful of minutes against Alleman.

“He’s gaining confidence and earning that playing time,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, who was pleased with the 11 points, 12 rebounds and three assists his bench provided. “He deserves to be out there. He’s practicing better and had better energy. We need it. We need a spark, and Payton’s providing it.”

He fits in well with an aggressive defense that forced 20 turnovers against Miller Academy, leading directly to 30 points.

“He’s super long and gets a ton deflections,” Smith said of Nicholson. “That lifts our energy a lot. I thought our bench came to play today.”

It makes Quincy the most complete it has been all season. The Blue Devils have won six straight games at home, three straight overall and have erased the 0-5 start to the season by getting back to level ground.

“We’re playing more as a team, and we’re getting more comfortable with each other and trusting each other,” Nicholson said. “Now we’re just going to keep getting better.”

Quincy 71, Miller Career Academy 51

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

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