Deflecting attention: Blue Devils disrupt Crusaders’ attack

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 28, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 29, 2018 12:50 am

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — If such a thing as a deflect-o-meter existed, Quincy High School boys basketball coach Andy Douglas would want to see how high his team could make it go.

Friday night, it might have gone off the charts.

Quincy disrupted Belleville Althoff’s attack so dramatically the Crusaders had more turnovers than points through three quarters. The Blue Devils took full advantage of that, allowing their second fewest points of the season in a 47-26 victory in the consolation semifinals of the 35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.

“The amount of tips we had in the first half was ridiculous,” said Douglas, whose team will play Belleville East at 3 p.m. Saturday for the consolation championship. “It was unbelievable how many times we got hands on the ball and the number of times that led to layups which we finished.

“I don’t know how many deflections we actually had, but it would have sent the meter up really high.”

The goal was at least one deflection every possession. It nearly happened.

“It should be higher than it was because there were a lot of deflections a lot of people didn’t even notice,” Quincy senior guard Jirehl Brock said. “I can remember a time in the game where I got a deflection and it went out of bounds and they called it our ball because the official didn’t see I had a deflection on it.

“We were just all over the place.”

While the defense locked in almost immediately — Althoff committed turnovers on three of its first five possessions — the energy was generated by a near perfect start offensively.

Quincy buried its first four 3-point attempts, scored on five of its first six possessions and led 14-2 four minutes into the game. It took a well executed play on the game’s first possession to kicksart that opening salvo.

Senior guard Jaeden Smith came off a screen to catch the ball uncovered at the top of the key and make an uncontested 3-pointer just 16 seconds into the game. Althoff never pulled even or led thereafter.

“It allows us to settle in,” said Smith, who went 4 of 8 from 3-point range and scored 16 points. “We had a ton of energy. Having that lead at the beginning gives a step ahead, and we feel like we play well with the lead.”

Douglas knew the Blue Devils were in good shape when Smith’s first shot fell.

“Nothing better than starting a game by executing a play to perfection,” Douglas said.

The Blue Devils weren’t always perfect.

After making their first four 3-pointers, they missed their next 11 attempts. Lucas Reis snapped that streak when he hit a trey from the top of the key with 5:13 remaining in the third quarter.

At that point, the Blue Devils were up 31-13 and in the midst of holding the Crusaders to just two points in the third quarter.

Althoff trailed 34-15 going to the fourth quarter, having committed 16 turnovers and shot 25 percent from the field.

“We kind of felt going into the game they weren’t going to be able to handle our pressure and that they hadn’t seen anything like our zone,” Brock said. “We were working on keeping them out of the paint. We wanted to limit that. It’s kind of hard to stop it, but you can always limit their ability with that.”

35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic

Quincy 47, Althoff 26

My, Oh My, Jeremiah: Freshman helps Blue Devils end five-game home-court losing streak

Jake Shane/Quincy Herald Whig

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 16, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 16, 2018 1:14 am

QUINCY — The will of a senior could only be outdone by the pluck of a freshman.

The Quincy High School boys basketball team needed that to happen.

The Blue Devils’ 12-point lead in the fourth quarter Saturday night was whittled to three as Quincy Notre Dame senior point Nick Schwartz engineered a rally. He scored 10 of the Raiders’ 18 points during a stretch in which they converted on eight straight possessions and trailed just 57-54 with three minutes to play.

That didn’t faze Jeremiah Talton in the least.

The Blue Devils’ 6-foot-4 freshman swingman scored on back-to-back possessions, converting an offensive rebound and then burying a 3-pointer from the left corner that pushed the lead back to 10 points and ultimately led to a 72-59 victory at Blue Devil Gym.

“We needed a couple of buckets to get us back in rhythm,” said Talton, who led the Blue Devils with a career-high 21 points. “All summer I practiced that, get in a rhythm and shoot it. It paid off.”

The way Talton handled the big moments in an electric atmosphere was as impressive as his 5-of-6 performance from 3-point range.

“That kid is going to be something special,” Schwartz said. “I’m not going to say that was their biggest game of the year, but it was their biggest atmosphere and one of the biggest stages of their season. Stepping up to make those shots, that says a lot for him as a freshman.”

It might end up being the Blue Devils’ biggest game because they finally handled a tight late-game situation with confidence. All of their six losses have been by six points or less, including Friday night’s 55-52 setback against Rock Island, and they were 0-5 at home this season.

“Right now, any win is important,” QHS senior guard Jirehl Brock said. “We just have to find that identity and find how to win.”

QND coach Kevin Meyer believes the Raiders may have found their identity, too, despite the loss.

“They never laid down,” Meyer said. “It would have been easy in that environment and everything going on around you. You’ve got Jirehl playing about the rim and Jeremiah banging home threes. It would have been easy to wilt under that. Our guys never did.”

It teetered on happening a couple of times.

Leading 33-27 at halftime, the Blue Devils (2-6) opened the third quarter by scoring on four of their first five possessions and pulling ahead 43-31. However, the Raiders (5-4) dug in defensively and limited the Blue Devils to three points over the final 5:50 of the quarter and trailed just 44-36.

“We dug ourselves a hole,” Schwartz said. “But we battled. We fought ourselves back into the game.”

What the Raiders couldn’t do was stop the Blue Devils from scoring.

QHS exploded for 26 points in the fourth quarter, scoring on all but three possessions. The Blue Devils committed just five turnovers in the game and shot 47.1 percent from the field and 47.8 from 3-point range.

“We played solid,” Brock said. “One thing we did tonight that we didn’t do in the other close games is we protected the ball pretty well.”

They had a freshman enjoy a coming-of-age moment.

“As soon as I got on the court and started hitting, I was all right,” said Talton, who went 4 of 4 from 3-point range as part of a 16-point first half. “I could tell from the start of the game I was going to be on tonight. I started shooting, and I was hitting.”

His confidence was infectious.

“Even in practice, we will have shooting competitions from the free-throw line and he doesn’t miss,” Brock said. “He has the most confidence out of any freshman I have ever seen. He steps up to the plate and doesn’t shy away from anything.”

He shied away from nothing Saturday night.

“I look at him, and he looks like he’s a junior out there,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “He’s got that confidence. Any time the ball goes out of his hands, you think the shot is going in.”

The Blue Devils would have taken that from anyone, just as long as they shed their late-game woes and continued their dominance of this series. QHS has won four straight and five of the last six meetings in the crosstown showdown.

“The amount of energy that was in the gym tonight and the emotion that goes into this, it was huge for us,” Douglas said. “The biggest thing was being able to finish a game.”

Quincy High School 72, Quincy Notre Dame 59

Blue Devils struggle in late-game situations, fall to Rocks

Quincy High School’s Lucas Reis, right, tries to drive past Rock Island’s JaMir Price during Friday night’s Western Big Six Conference game at Blue Devil Gym. | H-W Photo/Mat Mikesell

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 15, 2018 12:01 am

QUINCY — Quincy High School boys basketball coach Andy Douglas repeated himself to place emphasis on why the Blue Devils struggle in late-game situations.

“Unsure,” he said. “Unsure.”

Despite that, Douglas is fairly certain of this. If the Blue Devils keep putting themselves on the verge of success, eventually they will reap the rewards.

Friday night, though, was another fruitless ending.

Trailing Rock Island by a point with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining in regulation, Quincy failed to take the lead on four consecutive possessions and had its final opportunity snuffed out when Rocky sophomore Jordan Rice stole the ball from QHS senior Jaeden Smith with two seconds remaining. Rice subsequently made two free throws to give the Rocks a 55-52 Western Big Six Conference victory at Blue Devil Gym.

“It’s definitely a killer,” said Smith, who scored seven of his team-leading 15 points in the fourth quarter. “I thought we had really good chances to score and could have put it in the net, but we came up with some unfortunate plays. We have to find a way to dig out that win.”

The Blue Devils (1-6, 1-2 WB6) are desperate for it. All six of their losses have been by six points or less, and Friday was the second time in a one-point game they have failed to execute on the final possession.

“I think some of the individuals are confident in what they want to accomplish and get done, and then we have some that are just not sure,” Douglas said. “The confidence isn’t there. It’s not easy when you’re 1-6 and losing games by six, three, one. It’s hard to have that confidence.”

Quincy turned the ball over on four of its final seven possessions and failed to score the final 3:10.

“It’s super frustrating because we know we’re capable of winning these games,” Smith said. “It comes down to a couple of turnovers that are costly for us, no matter what quarter it is. We have to handle the ball better.”

Turnovers gave Rock Island (6-3, 2-1 WB6) the advantage.

Lucas Reis put Quincy ahead 52-50 by making a pair of free throws with 3:10 to go. After JaMir Price pulled the Rocks within a point by splitting a pair of free throws, he stole the ball from Blue Devils freshman Jeremiah Talton and scored a layup in transition for a 53-52 lead with 1:40 to play.

Price, who has committed to Bradley, finished with a game-high 21 points.

“I’m proud of our toughness, not only to make some shots when we did, but to make the defensive plays down the stretch,” Rock Island coach Thom Sigel said.

The Rocks made a few. After a timeout with 1:18 to go, Reis stole the ball and looked to have a shot at making a go-ahead layup. Price hustled back to disrupt the play, and although the Blue Devils collected the offensive rebound, they subsequently turned the ball over.

A missed 3-point attempt by Quincy sophomore Brady Rupert with 25 seconds remaining was rebounded by Rock Island’s Andrew McDuffy. His missed front end of the 1-and-1 was rebounded by Jirehl Brock and Quincy called its final timeout with 20.6 seconds remaining.

The Blue Devils weren’t able to run anything toward the basket and Adonte Crider nearly lost possession in front of the Quincy bench when he was tied up and a jump ball was called. The Blue Devils retained possession and inbounded the ball to Smith, who took two dribbles and did a jump stop into the lane.

Rice stepped in and stripped him and was fouled with 1.1 seconds remaining.

“That looked like it was totally clean from where I was,” Sigel said. “That was quick hands. I don’t know how tell a kid, ‘Quit thinking and just play.’ But that was a situation where he just played and made a big play.”

Smith was trying to do the same.

“I have to try to play through the contact and try to find somebody next time,” Smith said.

Douglas is confident there will be a next time.

“I can’t tell them enough how much I believe in them as a group and how much I believe in them individually,” Douglas said. “One of these days it’s going to click. I hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

Rock Island 55, Quincy High School 52

WB6 road victory helps Blue Devils end losing skid

Quincy High School’s Jirehl Brock finishes a dunk during the first half of Friday night’s game at Don Morris Gym in Rock Island, Ill. | Photo for the H-W/Gary Krambeck, Dispatch/Argus

Special to The Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 8, 2018 12:50 am Updated: Dec. 8, 2018 2:13 am

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — A physical, intense Quincy High School boys basketball team hungry for its first victory of the season was just too much for Alleman to handle.

The Blue Devils scored the game’s first five points and never trailed, ending what had been the worst start in program history with a 71-41 Western Big Six Conference victory Friday night at venerable Don Morris Gym.

Quincy (1-5, 1-1 WB6) forced six turnovers by Alleman (3-4, 1-1 Big 6) in the first quarter, running out to a 16-8 lead. The Blue Devils parlayed 18 Pioneer turnovers into a fast-break offense and unselfish attack.

“We had a rough start in the beginning of our season, so we wanted to come out hard and try to get our first win tonight,” said Quincy junior Adonte Crider, who scored a game-high 17 points. “Our defense was turned up. We had a lot of energy beating them to spots and getting turnovers.”

Quincy senior Jaeden Smith (14 points) and 6-foot-4 freshman Jeremiah Talton (13 points) were productive throughout the game. QHS senior Jirehl Brock scored six of his eight points in the second quarter, maxing out his team’s momentum with a steal and a slam dunk followed by an alley-oop jam from Smith on the next possession.

Alleman seniors Sam Mattecheck (12 points) and Chase VanDerGinst (10 points) were the only Pioneers to score more than six points. Dayne Hodge hit Alleman’s only 3-pointer as the Pioneers attempted just six treys. Alleman was 39 percent (18-for-46) from the field in the loss.

“They definitely played solid,” Mattecheck said of Quincy. “They were strong on the perimeter and they were knocking down their shots. And that’s a tough combination to battle against, but we’ve got to come out strong every game.”

Quincy made eight of its 27 attempts from deep, with Talton hitting 3 of 6.

“I knew that they were going to be really hungry for this game and play one of their better games,” Alleman coach Kyle Murray said. “Once we got down, we pressed a little bit and it just kind of snowballed from there.”

Quincy had just seven turnovers. Lucas Reis and Brady Rupert each scored seven for Quincy.

“We set the tempo early with how we were playing defensively, and luckily for us we were able to get some turnovers and finish some layups in transition,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, whose team shot nearly 50 percent (29-of-59) from the field. “It’s a team that doesn’t care who gets credit; Jirehl probably could have had 8-10 more, but he found guys on the perimeter. Jaeden and Jirehl are big time leaders for us.”

Blue Devils start 0-3 for second time in program history

Quincy High’s Adonte Crider takes a shot with pressure from Waukegan’s Andre. White Jr. on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 24, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 24, 2018 11:25 pm

QUINCY — Andy Douglas believes the opportunities the Quincy High School boys basketball team squandered this weekend will be beneficial in the long run.

The Blue Devils are adamant it will be sooner than that.

Trailing Waukegan by a point with 7.9 seconds remaining in regulation Saturday night, Quincy had to go the length of the floor for a potential game-winning basket.

However, junior point guard Lucas Reis fumbled the ball in the backcourt and was forced to heave a shot from a step inside the midcourt stripe, banging it off the backboard and the front of the rim as the Blue Devils suffered a 62-61 loss in the 48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament at Blue Devil Gym.

“I know his head was down, but I told him, ‘You have to look at it like this: You’ve never been a point guard at the varsity level,'” Douglas said. “He’d never been in that situation before. Aaron Shoot had to learn. Lincoln Elbe had to learn. Mike Dade had to learn.

“I told him, ‘You’re going to have to learn, but keep your head up and compete.’ He needs to know the coaches and the players have faith in him.”

He has to believe his teammates when they say things will get better.

The Blue Devils are 0-3 for only the second time in program history. It’s the first time they’ve failed to win a game in the Thanksgiving Tournament. This also was one of the tougher tourney fields in recent memory with Waukegan, Providence St. Mel and St. Louis Christian each going 2-1.

St. Mel won the tournament championship based on free-throw percentage.

The improvements the Blue Devils made from one night to the next should have them ready to face Moline, another team with high aspirations and plenty of preseason acclaim, in next Friday’s Western Big Six Conference opener.

“(QHS athletic director Scott Douglas) was talking with our assistant coaches and was saying we’re more ready for Moline than we were last year or two years ago because of how strong the field for the tournament was,” senior guard Jirehl Brock said. “I believe that’s right.”

Maybe so, but the Blue Devils must be more consistent to topple a top team.

Quincy scored on six straight possessions in the first quarter — the highlight being an alley-oop dunk by Brock — to build an 18-6 lead. Despite a seven-point run by Waukegan, the lead was still 10 after the Blue Devils scored on the first two possessions of the second quarter.

That’s when the offensive malaise began. The Blue Devils went seven possessions without scoring and led only 30-27 at halftime.

The same thing happened in the third quarter. After scoring on the first two possessions, the Blue Devils had seven straight empty trips. The Bulldogs grabbed a 39-35 lead at that point, and the Blue Devils led for only 12 seconds thereafter.

“We have to be a little more comfortable in what we’re doing,” said Andy Douglas, who got 16 points from freshman Jeremiah Talton and 14 points from junior Adonte Crider. “Right now, our execution is not anywhere near where it needs to be. Part of that is knowing the plays and knowing the sets. We have to be better listeners and better learners.”

They have to better in tight situations, too.

After Jaylin Cunningham split a pair of free throws with 1:30 to play to give the Bulldogs a 61-59 lead, the Blue Devils got Jaeden Smith open for a 3-point attempt at the top of the key that caromed long. Crider grabbed the offensive rebound, but the Blue Devils turned the ball over before getting another shot.

Another free throw by Waukegan made it a three-point game before Reis drove to the basket for a layup with 16.2 seconds remaining. The Blue Devils couldn’t get a steal on the inbounds pass and fouled Andre White Jr., who missed two free throws with 10 seconds to play.

It gave the Blue Devils one final chance that slipped away.

“It’s going to take some time for us to find our way,” Brock said. “Once we get to our full potential, we’ll be really good.”

48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament

Waukegan 62, Quincy High School 61

Knights capitalize on Blue Devils’ lack of execution

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 24, 2018 12:01 am

QUINCY — All the momentum the Quincy High School boys basketball team built in trimming a seven-point deficit down to two was undone in the span on six possessions.

Coming out of a timeout called by QHS coach Andy Douglas with 3:25 remaining in regulation and the Blue Devils trailing 47-45, Providence St. Mel made three consecutive field goals, getting two layins off dribble penetration and a pull-up jumper just inside the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils misfired five times on their three subsequent possessions, squandering a pair of offensive rebounds that could have stemmed the tide.

That allowed the Knights to salt away a 58-52 victory Friday night at Blue Devil Gym and head into Saturday as the only undefeated team in the 48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament field.

“I liked the fact we were able to get the momentum back,” St. Mel coach Tim Ervin Sr. said. “It made a difference in being able to execute the game plan. The game plan was to attack, and we had opportunities to do that. We executed much better in that stretch there.”

The Knights’ defensive effort was equally important.

Between Jaeden Smith’s 3-pointer with 5:52 to play and Adonte Crider’s 3-pointer with 27.7 seconds to play, the Blue Devils went 1 of 10 from the field. Four of those misses came on shots within 5 feet of the basket.

“We have to take advantage of opportunities when they arise,” Douglas said. “We didn’t do that. It hurts when you have a wide-open opportunity and you miss it, and it leads right back to a wide-open layup for the other team.”

In this case, it led St. Mel to the brink of a championship.

The Knights (2-0) will face St. Louis Christian Academy (1-2) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with a chance to complete a perfect weekend run. The Cougars will try to rebound from a 67-62 overtime loss to Waukegan that left open the possibility of a three-way tie for the title. That scenario only comes into play if St. Mel loses.

“We’re going to have execute for sure,” Ervin Sr. said. “That team is good, and they’re going to be upset after losing in overtime.”

Quincy (0-2) and Waukegan (1-1) will play the final game of the weekend at 7 p.m. Saturday with the Blue Devils hoping to avoid going winless in their own tournament for the first time since 2008.

It’s the inefficiency offensively that has put the Blue Devils in this position.

They shot 35.8 percent from the field — marginally better than the 27 percent Quincy shot in Thursday’s loss to St. Louis Christian — and just 20 percent from 3-point range. Making matters worse, the Blue Devils scored just 12 points off the Knights’ 20 turnovers.

“Scoring, and we knew this coming into this year, isn’t going to be easy for us,” Douglas said.

Because of that, the Blue Devils have trailed for more than 57 of the 64 minutes they’ve played in two games.

“We’re struggling right now in the execution category,” said Douglas, who got 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting from Smith and 10 points and seven rebounds from Jirehl Brock. “When we need to run a quick hitter, we can’t mess things up. Right now, we’re not a 100-percent team in execution. We’re probably closer to a 75-percent team. We’re not talented enough to not execute and expect to win.”

Certainly not when the other team executes in crucial moments.

Deion Jackson scored twice and Tyriel Nelson made a layup in the crucial stretch late in the fourth quarter and were among three Knights to finish in double figures. Nelson had a game-high 20 points, while Eric Jordan had 15 and Jackson finished with 13.

“We’re not executing at a high-enough level defensively when it comes to positioning,” Douglas said. “It’s not effort and energy, but it’s lack of execution.”

48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament

Providence St. Mel 58, Quincy High School 52

Off the mark: Blue Devils’ struggles shooting lead to opening loss

Quincy High School’s Adonte Crider attempts to navigate through St. Louis Christian Academy’s Evangelis Dermisis, left, and Tiki Musaka on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 23, 2018 1:20 am Updated: Nov. 23, 2018 1:35 am

QUINCY — Lucas Reis was as wide-eyed talking about the St. Louis Christian boys basketball team’s size as he was the first time he drove to the basket Thursday night and saw nothing but armpits and elbows.

“They’re tall,” the Quincy High School junior point guard. “That was brutal.”

It impacted every shot the Blue Devils attempted, no matter how far from the basket they were.

It wasn’t the only reason Quincy shot 27.2 percent from the field in a 54-48 loss on the opening night of the 48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament at Blue Devil Gym, but the Blue Devils were forced to contend with 6-foot-10 freshman Tiki Musaka around the basket more than they planned because of the struggles on the perimeter.

Quincy shot just 21.2 percent from 3-point, missing its first six long-range attempts.

“Some of us played a little scared at first,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said after Quincy lost its season opener for the first time since 2012. “But they’re human. They play basketball just like us. We can’t be afraid to go up against guys like that.”

It’s easier to do so when you make a few shots.

The Blue Devils didn’t make a 3-pointer until freshman Jeremiah Talton came off the bench and knocked one down from the right wing with 2:40 to play in the first quarter, but they were trailing by seven points at the time. They missed three of their next four shots and found themselves down by nine after the first quarter.

The Cougars’ lead continued to grow. The Blue Devils missed four of their first five shots of the second quarter and trailed by as many as 15 points.

A floater in the lane by Smith and a 3-pointer from the right corner by Talton as time expired trimmed the deficit to 31-21 at halftime, giving the Blue Devils a glimmer of hope.

“We learned mental toughness,” Reis said. “We struggled in the first half and part of the second half, but we kept playing our game and playing together.”

They were forced to believe the shots would fall.

“I had remind some of the guys of that, and I had to remind myself of that,” said Smith, who had 11 points but went 4 of 22 from the field overall and 3 of 13 from 3-point range. “The coaches reminded me of that. It’s got to fall. It’s going to fall eventually.”

It just didn’t happen Thursday night.

The Blue Devils didn’t seize any momentum from Talton’s buzzer-beater, making just one of their first 12 shots of the second half. The one that went in was a rebound dunk by Jirehl Brock.

They were down 17 points before finding any rhythm, going on a 9-0 run to get within eight points with 1:31 to go in the third quarter. The Cougars scored the final four points of the quarter to regain some separation.

“All in all, the guys’ effort was there,” Christian coach Casey Autenrieth said. “Defensively, we did OK at moments. A lot of times we were giving guys open looks, but they weren’t hitting them tonight. Had they been hitting them, we would have been in trouble.”

The Cougars, who committed 27 turnovers, scored just one point over the game’s final three minutes, but the Blue Devils never got it closer than a two-possession game. They missed four of their final five shots and committed a critical turnover with 26 seconds remaining that stalled the rally.

“We have some fight,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, whose team will play Providence St. Mel on Friday night. “We already knew that, but we have to be better. Defensively, we have to be better. And we have to make shots.”

The Blue Devils have no doubt they will.

“That’s why we have teammates,” Reis said. “That’s why you pick each other up.”