Dominant second quarter helps Blue Devils win 20th game

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

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

They knew what they had to do.

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

Boy, did they play well defensively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blue Devils make sure WB6 title is all their own

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

Special to The Herald-Whig

Posted: Feb. 17, 2018 12:05 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quincy 56, United Township 41

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

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

By Herald-Whig

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

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

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

That wasn’t going to be easy.

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

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

Then Jirehl Brock got in the way.

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

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

None were tougher than Brock.

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

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

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

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

That’s what foiled Sigel’s plan.

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

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

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

Getting to this point took resiliency and ingenuity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blue Devils sensed that.

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

Statesmen hold off Blue Devils’ furious fourth-quarter rally

Quincy High’s Jirehl Brock, center, splits the defense of Webster Groves’ Ray Adams, left, and Jacobie Banks as Brock drives to the basket during their game in the Quincy Shootout Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, at Blue Devil Gym. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 27, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 28, 2018 1:16 am

QUINCY — The marquee game of the inaugural Quincy Shootout needed marquee players to deliver marquee performances.

Aaron Shoot and Courtney Ramey didn’t disappoint in the fourth quarter Saturday night.

Trailing by 17 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Quincy High School boys basketball team nearly erased the entire deficit, getting 13 points and a series of clutch shots from Shoot to pull within one point on four occasions.

Ramey answered each time. The Webster Groves senior point guard made 8 of 8 free throws in the final 1:06 and finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds to help the Statesmen stave off the Blue Devils and secure a 58-55 victory at Blue Devil Gym.

“I knew it was going to be a big-time atmosphere,” said Ramey, one of the top 75 seniors in the country. “We jumped on them early, but we knew they were a great team, and they’d fight back. They made it interesting at the end.”

It took three quarters for that to happen.

Ramey’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the third quarter gave the Statesmen, the No. 1-ranked team in Missouri Class 5, a 46-29 lead. It felt like a dagger after the Blue Devils had trimmed an 18-point halftime to 12 earlier in the quarter.

Quincy junior Jirehl Brock started a 12-2 run by scoring on the first two possessions of the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils (15-4) scored on six consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, with Shoot’s 3-pointer with 1:09 to play pulling them within 50-49.

“All the wins they’ve had here and all the tradition, they don’t know how to lose,” Webster Groves coach Jay Blossom said.

Quincy coach Andy Douglas challenged his players.

“This is a group that I haven’t had to challenge often,” he said. “I thought we played tentative in the first half. I thought we played scared. We challenged them to play with some heart, play with some edge. They found a way to do that.”

The problem was they could never get over the hump.

Shoot answered two Ramey free throws with a reverse layup, making it 52-51 with 36 seconds to go. After a missed free throw by the Statesmen’s R.J. Wright with 17.4 seconds to play, Brock came down with the rebound, only to tumble to the floor and get called for traveling.

Webster Groves (12-6) then whittled nearly nine more seconds off the clock before Ramey hit a pair of free throws. He made six straight in the final eight seconds and finished 16 of 18 from the line.

“He’s one of the best guards in the country,” Blossom said. “Knocked down free throws, stayed composed when we were a little rattled. He did the things we expect him to do in those situations.”

Saint Louis University recruit Carte’Are Gordon, a 6-foot-8 power forward, was suspended after Friday night’s game against SLUH and didn’t make the trip, so Ramey figured to shoulder the load. Yet the Statesmen get everyone involved defensively in the first half, turning eight turnovers by the Blue Devils into nine points to build the big lead..

“Our role players really stepped up and made some big-time plays,” Ramey said.

They did what Douglas expected them to do. The Statesmen played physical, in-your-face defense.

“They frustrated our guys and took us out of what we wanted to do,” Douglas said. “They did a great job defensively, and we did a poor job of executing our offense. Was it because of our execution or them? I’d say it’s a healthy mix between the two.”

Quincy scored 26 points in the fourth quarter, three fewer than it scored in the first three quarters combined.

Shoot finished with 23 points, four assists and three steals while battling Ramey play-for-play down the stretch.

“I’m not going to say Aaron Shoot’s Division I, but he’s pretty dang close,” Douglas said. “He’s a heck of a player.”

That made the Statesmen appreciate what they had done.

“It’s a big-time win,” Ramey said.

Back in the chase: Blue Devils outlast Maroons, control own WB6 title fate

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 26, 2018 10:45 pm

QUINCY — Ben Amos might have spoken up a little too soon.

Luckily, he could laugh about it at the end of the night.

With the Quincy High School boys basketball team leading Moline by 13 points at halftime, Amos made the suggestion in the locker room if the Blue Devils won the third quarter they’d put the Maroons on the ropes.

“Coach was like, ‘On the ropes? It’s all four quarters,'” said Amos, a senior forward. “He reinforced the idea we had to play all four quarters.”

In fact, the Blue Devils had to grind to the very last second.

The Maroons went on a 16-0 run that lasted less than three minutes of the fourth quarter, taking a two-point lead with 4:35 to play. The Blue Devils regrouped, regained the lead and fully renewed their pursuit of a Western Big Six Conference championship with a 56-53 victory Friday night at packed Blue Devil Gym.

“We’ve been talking amongst us seniors about this game all week,” Quincy point guard Aaron Shoot said. “This is a game we’ve been thinking about since fifth grade, since sixth grade, seventh grade, junior days. This is the game you dream about as a kid.”

The Blue Devils (15-3, 5-1 WB6) had to win to stay in the conference title hunt.

The Maroons (16-5, 6-1 WB6) pummeled the Blue Devils 62-28 in the WB6 opener the first Friday of Decmeber and rolled into Blue Devil Gym having won six straight league games. However, Shoot didn’t play in the first matchup and showed how much of a factor his presence is at critical junctures.

He made three 3-pointers in the second quarter as Quincy outscored Moline 16-6 to grab a 29-16 halftime lead. He buried a 3-pointer from the right corner at the halftime buzzer, bouncing toward the locker room before the ball hit the net.

He was at his best when Quincy needed a calming influence.

With Moline ahead 45-43 and 3:20 to play, Shoot drove the baseline, drew a foul and made two free throws to tie the game. His three-point play on the next possession gave the Blue Devils the lead for good.

Shoot finished with a game-high 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

“We gave ourselves an opportunity and then Aaron Shoot took over,” Moline coach Sean Taylor said. “I thought he was exceptional.”

He had to be with the pressure Moline threw at him.

Down 41-27 after the Blue Devils scored on the first possession of the fourth quarter, the Maroons began throwing double teams at Shoot in the backcourt to force him to give the ball up. Quincy proceeded to turn the ball over on five of six possessions, fueling Moline’s 16-0 run.

“It’s coin flip,” Taylor said. “It’s either going to work, and you’re going to get back in it, or you’re going to get beat by 20 plus. I think you have to have the guts to sort of try, and our guys did a good job of really making a lot of plays.”

Despite Shoot and the Blue Devils handling the pressure late, the Maroons nearly made enough plays to complete the rally.

With Quincy up 52-47 and 54 seconds remaining after Adonte Crider made a 3-pointer from the left corner and Shoot split a pair of free throws, Moline’s Deonte Billups was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made three free throws.

Shoot beat the press and found Jacob Ary alone for a layup to push the advantage back to four before Billups hit an off-balance 3-pointer from the left wing to make it a one-point game with 16.9 seconds left.

Again, Shoot who dribbled through the pressure and laced a pass to Amos for a layup and an insurmountable lead.

Moline missed a shot in the final seconds, and the rebound was knocked out of bounds as the clock expired.

Asked if there was a moment in the fourth quarter when he felt the Blue Devils fully settled down, Shoot said, “Honestly, I wish I could say yeah. It was one of those games until that buzzer goes off, you’re tense. Until that buzzer went off, we were fighting, we were scrapping.”

Quincy Shootout Schedule

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Friday 1/26/18
5:00 PM          @ QND – St. Louis Christian (St. Louis, MO.)  -vs-  Charlotte Basketball Academy (Greensboro, NC.)
5:30 PM          Heritage Academy (Greenville, SC.)  -vs-  Horizon Christian (Ft. Wayne, IN.)
6:30 PM          @ QND – Quincy Notre Dame (Quincy, IL.)  -VS-  Brookfield Academy (Brookfield, WI.)
7:00 PM          Moline High (Moline, IL.)  -vs-  Quincy Sr. High (Quincy, IL.)
8:30 PM          Sunrise Christian (Bel Air, KS.)  -vs-  Liberty Heights Athletic (Charlotte, NC.)
Saturday 1/27/18
9:00 AM          St. Louis Christian Academy  -vs-  Loser of 5:30 Friday Game
10:30 AM        Charlotte Basketball Academy  -vs-  Loser of 8:30 Friday Game
NOON               Brookfield Academy (Brookfield, WI.)  -vs-  Father Tolton (Columbia, MO.)
1:30 PM           Quincy Notre Dame (Quincy, IL.)  -vs-  St. James Academy (Lenexa, KS.) 
3:00 PM          Muscatine High (Muscatine, IA.)  -vs-  Clark County (Kahoka, MO.)
4:30 PM          Iowa City West (Iowa City, IA.)  -vs-  Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, KS.)
6:00 PM          Winner of 8:30 Friday Game  -vs-  Winner of 5:30 Friday Game 
7:30 PM          Webster Groves High (Webster Groves, MO.)  -vs-  Quincy Sr. High (Quincy, IL.)
9:00 PM          Quincy Sr. High Girls (Quincy, IL.)  -VS-  Macomb High Girls (Macomb, IL.)