Passing grade: Blue Devils finish first half of schedule strong

Quincy forward Garrett Gadeke drives around a Washington defender en route to the basket during their game Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, at Blue Devil Gym. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 22, 2016 6:45 am Updated: Dec. 22, 2016 6:53 am

QUINCY — Parker Bland called them wolverine claw marks.

The scratches on the back on his left arm and shoulder — along with a sore left knee and right hip — were the remnants of how the Washington boys basketball team tested Quincy High School’s physical toughness, mental resolve and trust in each other Wednesday night.

The Blue Devils had no trouble passing what is essentially a mid-term exam.

Quincy saw a 13-point lead whittled to five roughly two minutes into the fourth quarter, but Bland’s layup in transition calmed everyone’s nerves as the Blue Devils closed out a 52-40 victory at Blue Devil Gym with an 11-4 run.

“That’s when our mental toughness comes into play,” said Bland, who led Quincy with 18 points and six rebounds. “We have to know we’re still playing a game. There’s still time to play, so we have to put it all together.”

The Blue Devils have done that so far, finishing the first half of the schedule with back-to-back victories and posting a 9-1 pre-Christmas record. It allows them to savor the next six days before heading to the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.

“Oh, we do get to enjoy it,” QHS senior forward Deven Smith said. “But we’re going to come back in here and we’re going to get after it and get ready for Collinsville. We know it’s important.”

Handling in-your-face pressure is just as important.

The Panthers (5-2) committed eight first-quarter turnovers, made just one field goal in the game’s first 9 minutes, 36 seconds and trailed 16-3 before point guard Devin Whitelow scored off a drive along the left baseline. Washington cut the deficit to eight points by halftime and continued chiseling away in the second half.

When Adrian Ware hit his third 3-pointer of the second half with 6:24 to play, the Panthers were within 41-36.

And at that point, the Blue Devils had gone nearly four minutes without a field goal.

“That team was really good defensively,” QHS junior point guard Aaron Shoot said. “I think everyone in the gym could see it. They were all over us the entire game, full-court pressure the entire game.”

Had Quincy let it, the pressure could have turned the tide.

Instead, the Blue Devils refused to let the Panthers force the issue when it mattered most.

After Washington forced a turnover, giving it an opportunity to make it a one-possession game, Ware missed a 3-pointer from deep on the right wing and Quincy’s Jaeden Smith — the shortest player on the floor at the time — grabbed the long rebound. He spun and started a fastbreak that ended with Bland’s momentum-killing layup.

“A huge sigh,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “It was a sigh of relief at that point.”

The Blue Devils had weathered the storm.

“Those were the exact words that came out of Coach’s mouth when he called the timeout,” said Shoot, who finished with 13 points, five steals and three assists. “We knew they were going to come out hot. We knew they were going to come out in our face. They made a little bit of a run, but we handled it well.”

Following Bland’s bucket, Shoot stripped Ware for one of Panthers’ 18 turnovers, and Bland converted a three-point play at the other end off a high post feed from Garrett Gadeke to push the advantage to double digits.

Still, it wasn’t as defining as Jaeden Smith’s rebound and outlet pass for the critical basket.

“It was a calming play for the crowd,” Bland said. “It kind of calmed us, too.”

Sunday Conversation with QHS’s Andy Douglas and QND’s Kevin Meyer

Quincy Notre Dame basketball coach Kevin Meyer and Quincy High School basketball coach Andy Douglas pose for a photo in the Herald-Whig studio on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

 

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 17, 2016 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 17, 2016 11:51 pm

Andy Douglas and Kevin Meyer share similar backgrounds.

Both played on high school basketball teams that reached the super-sectional round of the state tournament series. Meyer helped Quincy Notre Dame get there in Class A in 1989, and Douglas helped Quincy High School get there in Class AA in 2000. Both returned to their alma maters to be the head coach, with Douglas in his third season at QHS and Meyer in his second at QND.

Along the way they forged a friendship beyond the court. Their respect for each other and each other’s programs is genuine. It’s because they think and act with the same intentions — doing what’s best for the student-athletes.

They sat down before Saturday night’s crosstown showdown to discuss their approach to coaching, their friendship and what this game means.

How important is this game to basketball in Quincy?

Douglas: It’s big time. We’re a few blocks away from each other, and both schools compete year in and year out. The tradition at both schools is heavy. For the basketball community here, it’s something that is positive. It’s great for our players. I know players who for years wanted to be in this game and for whatever reason couldn’t be a part of it. Now that it’s happening again, it’s something special.

Meyer: I’ll echo that. It’s about the kids. They play at Johnson Park. They go out to QU, wherever they are playing games. They play with each other. They play against each other. This is a great chance for people to watch them on a bunch of different outlets and have some fun with it. At least that’s the way we are approaching it, to have some fun with it. It’s not to go out and trash each other or anything like that, because our schools have good relationships. It’s a fun environment. I enjoyed it last year, and we got our butts kicked. The support has to come from the community that they want to see it and be a part of it. It’s enjoyable. It’s a fun part of things. We keep coming back to that word, but it’s fun.

Douglas: The players want to play in big-time atmospheres and exciting atmospheres. You go to Springfield and Oswego and places like that where basketball is just not that big of a thing. People don’t show up in big numbers to watch it. Here, whether it’s their gym or our gym, they consistently do. With this game, it gives them a great opportunity. I remember coming out for the Western Big Six Conference championship game against Rock Island and going “Holy crap.” People were standing on the stairs. That was big time. That was a wow moment for all of us. This game can be like that. This game is going to have a better atmosphere than the state tournament has. That’s saying something. When you talk about all the fans who have been around each program for a while and some who have been around both programs for a while and the product that’s going to be on the floor, this has the potential to be one of the better experiences basketball-wise either group could have.

Are you jealous you didn’t get to play in a game like this?

Meyer: There’s some jealousy with it. It would have been fun. We each have people from the other team we know. In my case, (Eric) Stratman and (Dan) Sparrow talked about that last year, saying, “Oh, that wouldn’t have been a challenge,” and stuff like that. We sit here and talk about how (QND coach Bob) Kies and (QHS coach Jerry) Leggett would have handled it. How would Scott (Douglas) and Loren (Wallace) handled it? You didn’t get to experience that. From a player standpoint, how great would it have been to go out and play in Blue Devil Gym? We’ve been doing that since we were little kids. I remember in 1981 lining up at Kelly’s for the parade and stuff. At that point, I still felt like I wanted to be a Raider, but you’re going, “This is cool. This is Quincy basketball.” Maybe you got to play a JV game in there, and my senior year we played the regional there. That part of it is incredible. I am jealous of that.

Douglas: As a player, you want to be a part of it. It never was an option, so we never thought about it. It came up in the summertime when we played at Johnson Park and had pickup games, but we knew it wasn’t going happen during the season. Now that it is, I think it’s pretty cool. Selfishly, as a player, you want to be a part of it because now you have something to back up all the trash talk with Brian McNeil when he’s saying, “Oh, we were better than you guys.” As a competitor, you want to be a part of these big games.

Meyer: You always talk about wanting to play meaningful games. That’s a great way to describe this game. It doesn’t have any postseason repercussions. It isn’t our last game of the year, but boy, it’s a great one for all of us to learn from. Also, there’s the bragging rights part of it. That motivates the kids a little bit. There’s also the atmosphere. Playing in front of a big crowd, are you going to go out there and pee your pants? Or are you going to say this is a man’s game? I thought last year we had both moments. We got a lot out of it last year, and it really was meaningful.

What do your teams gain from this game?

Meyer: It’s a bigger game than what we play in our Christmas tournaments. It has a championship game feel because of the crowd, because of the TV aspect, because of what’s on the line. Quincy is on the line. That’s kind of a cool statement and kind of a cool idea. One of the fun things for us is there is mutual respect. That’s earned. It’s not given. Last year’s game was a good one. I talked about seeing Parker (Bland) and Jacob (Mayfield) go at it. At the end of the night when they shake hands, there’s respect. It’s both ways. That’s kind of a cool thing.

Douglas: Players get out of it how to play through pressure situations, how to play in a huge electric atmosphere, which they are going to see in postseason play and see in championship games of Christmas tournaments. They are going to see that in the second half of the season in all of our Western Big Six games. Every game that we have I try to be as consistent as possible and treat them all exactly the same. Every game, we go in with the mindset we need to improve and take steps in the right direction. This is no different than any of those other games.

The teams have a combined 13-1 record this year. Is there more anticipation for the game this year?

Douglas: I could care less what our record is. Honest to God, I told someone the other day the wrong record. I don’t care what we are, where we are record-wise. I care more about getting teams prepared to succeed and prepared to take steps in the right direction. That’s been my goal since I’ve been in the program. You get better or worse but you never stay the same. That’s our stamp on the program. We treat it that way in practice and in games. As far as records go, that’s more of a thing for fans. From my standpoint, we need to improve, and we’re going up against a tough QND team. We know it’s going to be a close game where they give everything and our guys give everything.

Meyer: It’s what you’re getting out of this game, not going into it undefeated and stuff like that. It’s the challenge part of it we look at. When it comes to our record, it matters at the end of the season I guess. That’s more of a fan side of it. It creates the hype. Fans are saying, “Oh, both teams are good.” That’s what we’re expecting and what we want. From a coaching standpoint, we’re trying to be better than we were last year, better than we were yesterday. On Sunday, the sun’s going to come up. Quincy is not burning to the ground. After that, they’ll get ready to play on Wednesday night and we’ll get ready for the State Farm Holiday Classic. Win or lose, after Saturday night, I’ll be a Blue Devil fan again and hopefully he’s a Raider fan. Saturday night, that’s probably not the case.

How much do you pay attention to each other’s teams?

Meyer: I follow him a lot. For one, we’ve done a lot of things together recently coaching wise. That’s what has been fun for me, being the coach for Notre Dame, is getting to know Andy really well and doing a lot of things to interact and see how he runs his program. What can I steal from him? What can we do to kind of emulate them? At the same time, I look at his kids and I know he has good kids. That means a lot because I’m hoping people say the same thing about us. It’s not always the case. We all have knuckleheads. But I follow them more than I ever have, partly because I’ve gotten to know him as a person and I know what he’s trying to do inside that locker room.

Douglas: I have a lot of respect for him. The situation that he took over is not something a lot of coaches would be jumping up and down about. He looked at it as a challenge. I’ve always said I respect how he handled it and how he’s running his program. They are going to have a lot of success down the line because of the type of person that he is and the coach that he is. I get the chance to watch his teams more on game film, and I get to watch how his kids play, the movement that they have. Good coaches are thieves. They steal ideas from everybody. We can say as high school coaches that we’re stealing from each other, and we’re stealing from the college coaches that we have in town as well. I have a lot of respect for Coach Meyer, and I have a lot of respect for his kids. We are very fortunate to be able to coach the kids that we get to coach going through our programs. That are not a lot of programs out there that can say that and be consistent about it.

Should this game continued to be played?

Douglas: I think so. People have talked about not doing it every single year and breaking it up into two-year increments, but I think we should play every year. It’s good for both programs. It’s good for the community. It gets people involved. Hopefully it gets people off their coaches and into the stands to watch at both places. The kids deserve it. They deserve to be a part of it. They deserve for people to come out and support them and be there in the stands to watch. When they look up in the stands and see a place that’s packed with support from both sides, it’s something they are going to remember the rest of their lives.

Meyer: The biggest thing you said is, “This is for the kids.” We could play in an empty gym and have refs — good refs — and have fun with it. It’s for the kids. It’s for our players. Why do we need to travel six hours when we can travel six minutes and play a high quality team? It just makes sense. I will always say that. It makes sense.

Blue Devils’ zone strangles potent Raiders’ offfense

Quincy High’s Jirehl Brock blocks a shot attempt by Quincy Notre Dame’s Wade Willer during the QHS QND match at the Blue Devil Gym on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 18, 2016 12:05 am Updated: Dec. 18, 2016 12:08 am

QUINCY

Jirehl Brock only scored two baskets Saturday night, but you would need to take off your shoes and socks to count all of the plays he affected on the defensive end.

Brock’s menacing presence at the top of Quincy High School’s 1-2-2 zone frustrated the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team during the Blue Devils’ 68-50 victory in Blue Devil Gym.

Statistics aren’t typically kept on the number of deflected balls, tipped passes and shooters harassed, but Brock was ever-present every time the Raiders tried to dent that zone.

“He just flies around,” QND senior forward Jared Mayfield said. “He has a ton of energy, and he’s not afraid to get in there and bang.”

Blue Devils coach Andy Douglas smiles and shakes his head when he thinks of the defensive impact Brock has.

“I look at our bench sometimes and think, ‘How the heck did he read that?'” Douglas said. “He’s got a knack for it. Early on (this season), the energy wasn’t there, but he was just waiting for his time. Energy-wise, playing the middle of the paint, that’s what we have to have to make our zone effective.”

The Raiders solved the Blue Devils’ zone riddle in the first quarter, taking a 15-12 lead. Carter Cramsey and Justin Bottorff both knocked down 3-pointers in that quarter.

However, the Raiders missed nine of their 10 shots from beyond the arc thereafter. It’s becoming a point of concern for them. QND missed 26 of 31 3-pointers this week against Palmyra and QHS, and it is shooting 20.7 percent (17 for 82) from 3-point range this season.

“It was a two-possession game entering the fourth quarter, but when we started chasing some threes to get those two possessions back, that’s when we lost it,” Raiders coach Kevin Meyer said. “That’s probably a thing we do against the zone right now. What we have to do is get it in the paint and do some fun stuff.

“I give (the Blue Devils) a ton of credit, but we have to figure some things out.”

When the Raiders got the ball in the middle of the zone, Mayfield and Wade Willer were effective, combining for eight baskets.

“We should have just kept attacking instead of settling for threes,” Mayfield said.

The Raiders were more successful attacking the basket when Parker Bland and Garrett Gadeke, the Blue Devils’ pair of 6-foot-4 post players, were on the bench with two fouls each in the second quarter. When they were on the floor in the second half, however, QND found few lanes to drive.

“If you get the ball in the middle, everything sucks in, and we can kick to shooters or go to the basket,” Meyer said. “If we could have got Garrett or Parker with their third foul, that could have been a turning point.”

Gadeke and Bland played the second half with just one foul between them, and they combined for 12 rebounds as the Blue Devils often limited the Raiders to one shot.

“They haven’t seen a defense like ours,” Brock said. “All five guys on the court are quick enough to get to their shooters, and I felt like it frustrated them all night. You could tell by their body language and the way they were making passes. They were getting scared to shoot. They would pump fake a lot, but all that did was make it easier for us to get to them.”

The zone didn’t bother the Raiders as much in the third quarter because the tempo of the game picked up, leading to more fast breaks. QND trailed by six early in the third quarter but took the lead at 39-38 on Mayfield’s post-up basket with 3:55 left in the quarter.

But the Raiders scored just one more basket in the third quarter, then missed 11 of their first 12 shots in the fourth quarter. QND had shot 60 percent or better from 2-point range in four of its first six games, but it finished Saturday’s game with 17 baskets on 50 shots. It was held 19 points below its season scoring average of 69.

“We just didn’t execute very well tonight,” said Bottorff, who missed nine of 11 shots and scored eight points — 10 below his season average. “I mean, it’s obviously a good zone, and they’re a great team, but it was us. We were throwing bad passes out of it.

“We were out of our heads. We were too worried about other stuff, and we didn’t have good composure in the second half (the Raiders were whistled for two technical fouls). I think this is going to make us stronger and we’ll get better. There will be more times this season when we feel pressure, and a game like this will help us.”

 

 

 

 

 

Redemption: Gadeke bounces back from Friday miss to help Blue Devils bury Raiders in second half

Quincy High’s Garrett Gadeke and Parker Bland, right, attempt to blocks a shot attempt by Quincy Notre Dame’s Jacob Mayfield, center, during the QHS QND match at the Blue Devil Gym on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 18, 2016 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 18, 2016 12:08 am

QUINCY — Once was enough for Garrett Gadeke and the rest of the Quincy High School boys basketball players.

Unless you’re talking about victories in the crosstown rivalry.

In that case, twice turned out to be quite nice.

After suffering their first loss of the season Friday night at United Township when Gadeke missed a game-tying layin at the buzzer, the Blue Devils buried their heartbreak by burying Quincy Notre Dame with a second-half surge Saturday night. A 21-4 run turned a one-point game into a rout as QHS won 68-50 at Blue Devil Gym.

“Amazing,” said Gadeke, a senior forward who has been a part of back-to-back victories over the Raiders. “Absolutely amazing.”

It was sweet redemption, too.

The Blue Devils played tug-o-war Friday night with the lead and momentum with United Township, trailing by two until the final seconds when Aaron Shoot fed Gadeke for what appeared to be a game-tying layup. The ball spun off the rim and saddled the Blue Devils with a 45-43 loss.

Gadeke hadn’t forgotten it by the time Saturday’s game tipped, and the QND student cheering section reminded him of it with some playful jeers when he went to the free-throw line in the first quarter.

“I heard it,” Gadeke said.

That was easier to ignore than the disappointment he felt in the wake of the miss.

“I didn’t say a word on the bus ride home (Friday) night,” said Gadeke, who rebounded with his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds Saturday night. “I sat in the corner and listened to my music. That’s my way of dealing with things. I’m not an emotional guy. I’m not a talk it out and try to make excuses kind of guy.

“Last night was on me. Our perfect season at that point ended because of my play and the inability to finish. I take a lot of responsibility for (Friday) night’s loss.”

He then gets quite a bit of the credit for what transpired in the second half Saturday night.

The Blue Devils (8-1) led 29-26 at halftime despite Gadeke and QHS forward Parker Bland spending the final four minutes of the second quarter on the bench with two fouls apiece. The duo returned to the lineup in the third quarter and took over, combining for 25 points and 12 rebounds over the final 16 minutes.

“We know how much of a struggle it can be when we are both not in there,” said Bland, who finished with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds. “The coaches stress one of us has to be in there at all times. When that didn’t happen, it affected us, but a lot of different guys stepped up.”

That included Jirehl Brock scoring five of the final nine points of the half for QHS and Ben Amos, who had gone from the starting lineup at the beginning of the season to no minutes Friday night, making a short jumper and being a presence inside defensively.

“Playing through mistakes and playing through tough times is what you have to do,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “We had guys step in and provide us with a little bit a spark, and our guys came out in the second half mentally tough and ready to go.”

Trailing by a point with 3:40 to play in the third quarter, the Blue Devils went on a 9-2 to spurt to close the quarter, then held the Raiders to one field goal on the first 16 possessions of the fourth quarter. The deficit reached 20 points before Justin Bottorff scored with 2:21 to go.

During that span, QND went 1 of 11 from the field, turned the ball over eight times and struggled to keep QHS from attacking the basket. All 10 of the Blue Devils’ field goals during the pivotal 21-4 run came within 5 feet of the basket.

“It was definitely frustrating, and we just got our heads down too much,” QND point guard Carter Cramsey said. “We kind of lost our composure a little bit. They had all the momentum, and we just struggled.

“Everything started going downhill all at once. It was just tough to come back.”

The inability to knock down shots played a big role in that.

The Raiders (6-1) shot just 34 percent from the field (17 of 50) and 20 percent from 3-point range (3 of 15). Bottorff, who came in averaging 18 points per game, hit just 2 of 11 shots and finished with eight points. Jacob Mayfield led the Raiders with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils overcame their early offensive struggles to shoot 55 percent from the field during the game’s final 12 minutes. They didn’t turn the ball over in the third quarter and finished with 12 turnovers.

It was the kind of bounce-back effort they expect.

“You have to come back even better, come back even harder,” said Shoot, who finished with 13 points and five assists. “We always say that if we ever do lose on Friday, whoever we play on Saturday is in for a treat because it’s not going to be fun for them.”

Quincy High School 68, Quincy Notre Dame 50

QND (6-1)

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb pf pts

Little 2-4 0-0 2 0 5

Cramsey 2-7 2-4 5 2 7

Bottorff 2-11 3-4 9 1 8

Willer 4-8 0-0 5 4 8

Mayfield 4-10 3-4 7 5 11

J. Ray 2-5 5-10 3 4 9

Schwartz 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

Hyer 1-3 0-0 3 1 2

T. Ray 0-1 0-0 0 0 0

Hoebing 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Kinsel 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Venvertloh 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 5

Totals 17-50 13-22 39 17 50

QHS (8-1)

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb pf pts

Shoot 4-8 3-4 6 3 13

J. Smith 4-11 1-2 3 3 9

Brock 2-7 5-5 5 4 9

Bland 8-19 2-2 7 2 18

Gadeke 6-13 3-4 10 3 15

D. Smith 0-1 0-0 1 0 0

Tenhouse 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Schwiete 1-1 0-0 0 2 2

Amos 1-2 0-0 0 2 2

Scott 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

Aschemann 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Brunenn 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 4

Totals 26-62 14-17 37 20 68

QND 15 11 15 9–50

QHS 12 17 18 21–68

3-point field goals–QND 3-15 (Bottorff 1-6, Cramsey 1-3, Little 1-1, Mayfield 0-2, Willer 0-1, Hyer 0-1, T. Ray 0-1), QHS 2-7 (Shoot 2-2, J. Smith 0-2, Bland 0-2, Brock 0-1). Assists–QND 8 (Little 3), QHS 10 (Shoot 5). Steals–QND 7 (Little 3), QHS 12 (Brock 5). Blocked shots–QND 3 (Bottorff 2), QHS 2 (Brock, Gadeke). Turnovers–QND 18, QHS 12. Technical fouls–Mayfield, Bottorff. Officials–Brian Cuffle, Kurt Cuffle, Dave Riedle.

Big quarters from three players help Blue Devils stay unbeaten

By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF

Posted: Dec. 10, 2016 10:35 pm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Balanced scoring from several different players makes any team very difficult to defend.

If Saturday night was any indication, the Quincy High School boys basketball team will be a handful for every opponent it faces.

The Blue Devils had three different players score in double figures in three different quarters as they picked up a 64-51 victory on the road against Springfield. The Blue Devils remain undefeated through the first seven games this season.

QHS looked to set the tone of the game by going inside, and Parker Bland scored nine straight points to give the Blue Devils an 11-2 lead midway through the first quarter.

“We wanted to get the ball inside from the beginning,” sophomore guard Jirehl Brock said. “Establishing the inside allows us to work off them as well.”

QHS stretched the lead to 16-2 before a 3-pointer by Springfield’s Zaire Harris stopped a 14-0 run. Bland finished the quarter with 13 points, giving QHS a 20-10 lead.

With the Senators giving extra attention to Bland in the second quarter, Brock took the opportunity to carry the scoring load. He had 11 points in the quarter.

Springfield had cut the QHS lead to 26-18, but a 3-pointer by Bland and a rare four-point play by Brock pushed the lead back to 15. Bland had 16 in the first half and Brock 14 to give QHS a 38-24 lead at the half.

“We have random guys who are capable of having big nights, and that makes us difficult to defend,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said.

The Senators increased their defensive pressure in the second half and forced the Blue Devils to commit 10 turnovers, slowly chipping away at the deficit. Midway through the fourth quarter, Springfield got within 58-49, the first time the lead was down to single digits since the first quarter.

However, it was Garrett Gadeke’s turn to have a big quarter. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including the final six of the game to seal the victory.

“Springfield got a little physical with our guys in the second half, but that’s good,” said Douglas. “It will prepare us for the games that lie ahead.”

Gadeke finished with 18 points, and Brock added 16. Bland led the Blue Devils with 22 points.

QHS heads to East Moline on Friday before taking on crosstown rival QND on Saturday at Blue Devil Gym.

“Our kids know what is on Saturday, but we know that Friday night is a huge conference road game, and that needs to be our focus this week,” Douglas said.

Strong closing kick pushes Blue Devils to victory in WB6 opener

Rock Island Alleman’s Cyrus Pendelton, left, and Quincy’s Garrett Gadeke dive for a loose ball rebound in the first quarter Friday at Blue Devil Gym in Quincy. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley

By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 3, 2016 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 3, 2016 2:24 am

QUINCY — It’s a tried and true adage. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

The Quincy High School boys basketball team found itself subscribing to that theory with the outcome of Friday night’s Western Big Six Conference opener against Rock Island Alleman hanging in the balance.

The Blue Devils, who led 46-40 with four minutes remaining in regulation, scored off just one of their first 11 offensive rebounds. That was before Garrett Gadeke tipped in a miss while being undercut by an Alleman defender and then put back Jaeden Smith’s missed 3-pointer on the following possession, kickstarting a 13-0 run that put away a 62-44 victory at Blue Devil Gym.

“The shots we took were quality shots,” Gadeke said. “You just have to crash the boards and make a play.”

It was needed more than ever after the Pioneers whittled a 15-point deficit down to six with a barrage of 3-pointers.

The Blue Devils (4-0, 1-0 WB6) led 36-21 with two minutes to play in the third quarter before Alleman made three consecutive 3-pointers — two by Collin O’Keeffe — and closed the quarter on a 10-2 run. Gadeke seemed to changed the momentum by converting a three-point play on the first possession of the fourth quarter, but Alleman’s Andrew Barrett answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

Three minutes later, back-to-back putbacks by the Pioneers (3-3, 0-1 WB6) closed the gap to six points.

“It was tough to pull away,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, whose team scored 11 of its 15 second-chance points in the fourth quarter. “They did a good job of getting shots by moving the ball around. Their ball movement around the perimeter was great. They set screens in the right spots. They executed their game plan really well.

“It forced us to show some mental toughness.”

It started with taking advantage of an Alleman mistake.

With 3:43 to play, Quincy’s Aaron Shoot rolled off a screen and drained a 3-pointer from the right wing. During the shot, Alleman was whistled for a foul for running through Jirehl Brock’s screen and knocking him to the floor.

It allowed Quincy to maintain possession, which led to Gadeke crashing the middle of the lane and flipping the ball back to the rim with his right hand despite being dragged to the ground.

“You have to hopefully have the ball fall your way,” said Gadeke, who scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. “You have to get a couple of lucky bounces on offensive rebounds and putbacks. It worked out for us.”

Alleman, which lost its 32nd straight conference game, didn’t have an answer.

A long rebound off a missed 3-pointer turned into a dunk in transition by Parker Bland, and he powered his way to the rim for a three-point play on the next possession to make it 59-40 with 1:52 to go.

“When it comes down to the final few minutes, that’s where you put every ounce of energy left into making a play,” said Bland, who led the Blue Devils with 19 points.

That was the case across the board.

The Blue Devils finished with four players in double figures as sophomore guard Jirehl Brock scored a career-high 15 points, making 3 of 4 3-pointers to go along with seven rebounds and five steals. Shoot added 11 points, hitting 3 of 5 3-pointers.

Quincy failed to shoot 50 percent from the field for the first time this season, going 23 of 51 (45.1 percent), but the grit to outrebound Alleman 30-22 and force 22 turnovers made up for the offensive struggles.

“Our mental toughness was great,” Douglas said. “We had random guys step up in the toughest parts of the game. That’s what you need from an experienced, veteran team.”

 

Blue Devils get everyone involved to finish tourney title run

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Quincy’s Parker Bland lays up a basket against Chicago Sullivan’s Isaiah Adekonojo during the annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament at the Blue Devil gym on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 26, 2016 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 27, 2016 1:37 am

QUINCY — Logan Brunenn spent most of his fall serving as one of the ringleaders for the Quincy High School student cheering section at Flinn Stadium.

His soccer-playing buddies returned the favor Saturday night inside Blue Devil Gym.

Brunenn, a senior reserve on the QHS boys basketball team, saw the first extended playing time of his varsity career and responded with eight points in a 70-30 victory over Chicago Sullivan that cemented the Blue Devils’ undefeated run to the title of the 46th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament.

The student section began chanting Brunenn’s name on both of his 3-pointers.

“They have my back,” Brunenn said. “There are no other fans I’d rather play in front of.”

Brunenn wasn’t the only one to take advantage of the opportunity. QHS coach Andy Douglas didn’t play the top seven players in his rotation a single minute of the second half after they established a 50-3 lead at halftime.

Chicago Sullivan, which allowed 102 points against Urbana on Thursday night and 98 against Chicago Carver on Friday, trailed 26-0 at the end of the first quarter and 37-0 before scoring 10 minutes, 59 seconds into the game.

Junior guard Jumar Woodlawn completed a three-point play off a drive down the left side of the lane for the Tigers’ only basket of the half. Sullivan turned the ball over on 16 of its first 22 possessions and went 1 of 13 from the field in the first half.

“You really don’t know what to say to your team at halftime,” Douglas said. “At least I don’t know what to say. I told them we were focused how I wanted them to be and how they expected themselves to be from the get-go. They weren’t flashy or anything like that. They did it the right way.”

So did the reserves. Seven players shared the final 16 minutes.

“They played hard and didn’t let up in that regard,” Dougals said. “They were unselfish and got each other the ball and tried to get everybody a shot and a bucket.”

They nearly accomplished that.

Brunenn and senior forwards Zack Aschemann and Garrett Scott all ended up in the scoring column. Jacob Ary scored his first varsity field goal and finished with 10 points, joining teammate Parker Bland as the only players in double figures. Bland led the Blue Devils with 16 points on 8-of-8 shooting.

“I’m only a junior,” Ary said. “So the more experience, the better.”

Producing while playing extended minutes could lead to more minutes later in the season.

“We had to make sure we improved and not do any bad things,” Ary said. “We have to show Coach we can be trusted.”

Douglas sent a strong message that he trusted their judgment and integrity by never telling the Blue Devils to take their foot off the pedal.

“A lot of the time, he’s just saying, ‘Play the game. Don’t take it too far,'” Brunenn said. “It wasn’t a close score, but you have to respect the other team.”

You must take advantage of the opportunity as well.

“The starters were encouraging us and telling us that now is our time to shine,” Brunenn said. “It gives us the chance to help get others involved. It’s special.”

Five things to make or break QHS’s season

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QHS’s Aaron Shoot drives past Galesburgs Jarret Olson. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 22, 2016 11:25 am

Coming off a 21-win season, the Quincy High School boys basketball team carries high expectations into this season despite returning only two starters and sliding a pair of sophomores into the starting lineup. The mix of youth and veteran leadership could produce a dynamic team capable of winning a Western Big Six Conference championship and some postseason hardware.

Here is a look at five things that could make or break the Blue Devils’ season:

1. Find additional scorers

Parker Bland is a known commodity. The 6-foot-4 senior forward scored more than 400 points the last two seasons combined and is entering his fourth season on the varsity. He’s extended his game to the 3-point stripe and continues to improve his footwork around the basket. He is arguably the best forward in the Western Big Six Conference, but he is Quincy’s only proven scorer. Senior forward Garrett Gadeke is a nice complement in the frontcourt and his numbers should improve in his second season as a starter, but the backcourt lacks anyone who has consistently scored at the varsity level.

Junior guard Aaron Shoot will fill one of the scoring roles. He was spectacular at times last season coming off the bench, but he was never asked to score on a nightly basis. Now, the Blue Devils are expecting double digits out of him every night. Sophomore guard Jirehl Brock is another scoring threat. More of a slasher and a creator off the dribble than a spot up shooter — if you watch him practice, though, his 3-point shot has a beautiful arc — Brock gives the Blue Devils an athletic dimension that should lead to more baskets in transition.

Beyond the starting five — sophomore Jaeden Smith will start at point guard — the Blue Devils will be looking for someone to help carry the load.

2. Learn as you go

In Andy Douglas’ first two seasons as head coach at QHS, he was blessed to have a senior at point guard as Lincoln Elbe and Mike Dade assumed leadership positions. That’s not the case this season. Smith, who has played two varsity seasons on the QHS boys soccer team, is being given the reins to the offense without having spent a full season behind one of those veteran guards.

His challenge will be to stay headstrong when mistakes happen and provide leadership despite his age. Smith will have the advantage of playing alongside Shoot, who learned from Dade’s tutelage last season much the same way Dade learned from Elbe the year before. Although Shoot wasn’t a starter last season, he was an intricate part of the Blue Devils’ attack and understands what it means to be a sophomore in that position.

The same goes for Brock, who will benefit from the upperclassmen around him.

“I’ve told them to lean on the seniors, lean on the veteran guys who have been there and been in the trenches,” Douglas said. “If you don’t know what’s going on or you feel like you’re questioning yourself, those are guys who can help get people ready to play because the people ahead of them got them ready to play.”

3. Got to be physical

The frontcourt is Quincy’s undeniable strength, but the Blue Devils don’t have anyone taller than 6-4 in the lineup. That could cause some problems against bigger teams if it weren’t for the fact the Blue Devils might be the most physical group around.

Bland is a shot-blocker who is capable of averaging double digits in rebounds this season. The 6-3 Gadeke is a workhorse who will outhustle and outmuscle foes for a rebound, a loose ball or simply position on the floor. Zack Aschemann, a 6-4 forward, is back playing basketball after giving it up for a year to concentrate on weight lifting and conditioning for football. An all-conference defensive end, Aschemann can be a bruiser at both ends of the floor for the basketball team. And 6-1 Deven Smith, an all-state fullback and linebacker, was one of the first options off the bench last year in the frontcourt and will be again this season. Few play any sport more physical than him.

None of the four are scared to throw their bodies into the mix to get a rebound.

“With the defense we run, we know if we get beat, we’ve got Parker Bland and Garrett Gadeke back there,” Shoot said. “Those are two guys are not fun to try to put shots up against. It definitely takes some pressure off the guards.”

Unless the guards are fighting for a rebound with one of the big men.

“I can’t tell you how many bruises I’ve had from Parker,” Shoot said.

4. Keep the energy high

After two weeks of practice in which the Blue Devils were short-handed because of injuries, they are back to full strength. Shoot’s broken thumb has healed. Brock’s ankle is healthy. And everyone is ready to showcase how this team is going to perform. The energy such anticipation has created isn’t going to wane once the first game is over. The Blue Devils believe they can maintain the enthusiasm.

“Every person who is on the court, you can tell they want to be on the court at all times,” Shoot said. “The energy is almost always there in practice. That’s one of the things that is going to separate us.”

The high energy is born from desire.

“We’re active,” Bland said. “And we have a high motivation just to get better overall.”

If they maintain that, the Blue Devils could be staring at another 20-win season.

5. One step at a time

The Blue Devils are clear there is some unfinished business they want to take care of after letting a fourth-quarter lead in the regional championship slip away. They also would like to repeat as Western Big Six Conference champions. But they have to take matters slow and not make those two objectives do-or-die situations. There are going to be some growing pains with a young lineup, but Douglas is convinced this group has the right mindset to be a champion.

It starts by understanding the game.

“We don’t have to spend a lot of time on Xs and Os because they pick it up quick,” Douglas said.

That’s allowed the coaching staff to spend more time pushing the Blue Devils to be tougher mentally. That will pay off when games get tight and the Blue Devils understand how to handle the pressure.

“That’s where our experience counts,” Bland said.