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 / bachenbach@qconline.com Staff

By DRAKE LANSMAN
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

Log onto www.quincyshootout.com for all shootout information. 

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.)

Blue Devils don’t shy away from Conditt, Corliss

Quincy High’s Aaron Shoot takes a shot with pressure from Chicago Corliss’ George Conditt on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 20, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 20, 2018 11:05 pm

QUINCY — Quincy High School boys basketball coach Andy Douglas didn’t want the Blue Devils shying away from Chicago Corliss center George Conditt IV because they were scared to get their shots blocked.

Truth be told, Douglas welcomed a few swats.

“If he had zero blocks, we weren’t working hard enough,” Douglas said.

The Blue Devils made sure that wasn’t a concern.

Attacking off the dribble and challenging the 6-foot-10 Iowa State signee at the rim, Quincy turned a five-point halftime lead into a rout, ending the Trojans’ 15-game winning streak with a 66-41 victory Saturday night at Blue Devil Gym.

The critical sequence came over the final four minutes of the third quarter as a six-point game became an 11-point advantage thanks to the Blue Devils’ relentless nature. It started with Jirehl Brock tipping in a missed 3-pointer by Jaeden Smith and ended with Ben Amos catching a nifty pass from Aaron Shoot for a layup out of Conditt’s reach.

“We knew he was tall, and we knew he could jump,” Shoot said. “We tried to make it a point to get in there and still get looks. We didn’t want to settle for outside shots all night.”

Still, Conditt’s presence was undeniable.

He had two dunks in the first quarter and helped the Trojans build a 14-11 lead. However, Shoot drove to the middle of the lane on the final possession of the quarter, hesitated with his shot to get Conditt up in the air and buried a short jumper.

He did the same thing on the first possession of the second quarter, developing a blueprint for how to avoid a shot blocker.

“That’s one of things Coach talked about in the locker room. We had to get him off his feet,” Shoot said. “He’d either foul us or get a look at the basket.”

At the same time, the Blue Devils challenged the Trojans’ guards with the 1-2-2 zone defense. Corliss held the ball for more than two minutes on its first possession of the game and stayed very methodical offensively. Corliss scored just four points of the final 5:55 of the first half as Quincy turned a two-point deficit into a five-point lead. The Trojans committed three of their 18 turnovers in that stretch.

“Because we got it to the paint, it opened up a lot for us in the long room,” Douglas said.

Quincy scored 10 of its 12 field goals in the first half in the paint and had 42 points in the paint overall despite Conditt blocking six shots. The Blue Devils also had the edge on second-chance points, scoring 12 off eight offensive rebounds. The Trojans had five points off 10 offensive rebounds.

Conditt finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

“We told them, ‘Don’t shy away from him. Don’t change your shot. Don’t be scared to get your shot blocked,'” Douglas said.

No one was.

“You can’t be,” said Quincy guard Jaeden Smith, who led the Blue Devils with 15 points. “He’s going to block shots. He’s 6-foot-10. He should block some shots. But if you get your shot blocked, you just keep going in there. You can’t be afraid to attack.”

Nor could the Blue Devils shy away from pressure.

Corliss played in-your-shorts man-to-man defense from start to finish, but the Blue Devils turned the ball over just once in the first half and just five times overall.

Quincy shot 50.9 percent from the field and made 6 of 7 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

“It was a whole team effort,” Douglas said. “I was proud of the effort they put forth.”

Mind readers: Blue Devils take coach’s thought, execute it to perfection in WB6 blowout

Quincy junior Jaeden Smith drives in for a layup during the Blue DevilsÕ 70-33 win over host Galesburg in W B6 Conference play on Friday night at John Thiel Gymnasium. STEVE DAVIS/Gatehouse Media

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 19, 2018 10:45 pm Updated: Jan. 20, 2018 12:45 am

GALESBURG, Ill. — When Andy Douglas reached the bottom of his pregame list of talking points, he forgot why he wrote “pick and choose” on the dry erase board.

“I blanked,” the Quincy High School boys basketball coach said. “I had no idea.”

The Blue Devils had a clue what he meant.

Possession after possession, they picked the right time to attack the basket or to pass up a quality shot to get a better look. It led to the most efficient offensive effort of the season in Friday night’s 70-33 steamrolling of Galesburg in Western Big Six Conference play at John Thiel Gym.

“That was probably the best game we’ve had collectively as a team,” junior guard Jirehl Brock said. “Everybody was getting shots. There was no selfish play. There were a lot of two-, three-, four-pass possessions before a shot.

“Not all of them went in, but a majority of them did.”

The Blue Devils (13-3, 4-1 WB6) set the tone by opening the game on an 8-0 run.

Facing Galesburg’s aggressive and physical man-to-man defense, Quincy point guard Aaron Shoot scored on the first two possessions, driving past his defender for a layup and pulling up for a 10-foot jumper in the lane. Ben Amos scored the next two times, dribbling into the lane and spinning around a defender for a bucket and scoring on a layup.

“When you’re attacking the rim and you’re being aggressive, it really opens up things,” said Shoot, who scored 17 points in the first half and finished with 22. “We saw a lot of mismatches, and we liked a lot of matchups with our guys. I had a good matchup, Ben had a good matchup, and we took advantage of it.”

A timeout settled the Silver Streaks (16-7, 2-3 WB6) down momentarily as they answered the Blue Devils’ opening salvo with a 6-0 run. However, Quincy scored on five consecutive possessions to close the quarter and built a 21-14 lead.

“We knew we had the potential to take over the game completely,” said Brock, who finished with 11 points, six assists and three steals.. “That’s exactly what we did.”

After scoring the first basket of the second quarter, Galesburg committed turnovers on eight of its next nine possessions. By the time the half ended, the Blue Devils outscored the Silver Streaks 24-7 in the second quarter and led by 24 points at halftime.

Quincy went 18 of 30 from the field (60 percent) and 6 of 12 from 3-point range (50 percent) in the first half.

“We’ve really hit that hard the last couple weeks of what a good shot is and trying to get them to understand it,” Douglas said. “Tonight it was like a light bulb went off. I can’t think of a bad shot we took in the first half. None of them were forced shots.”

The Blue Devils missed their first two shots of the third quarter, but it never opened a window of opportunity for the Silver Streaks.

Galesburg missed its first 11 shots of the third quarter, didn’t score until 1:20 remained before the fourth quarter and got outscored 18-4 to start the second half.

“They had the five best players on the floor,” Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds said.

The Blue Devils finished shooting 50.9 percent from the field without one of the top seven players in the rotation playing a minute of the fourth quarter.

“We were playing unselfish, sharing the ball and not worrying about who is getting the points,” said Shoot, who had four of the Blue Devils’ 13 assists. “When we’re moving it around, shots tend to fall because they’re in-rhythm shots.”

It helps to pick and choose the right time for everything. Even if Douglas didn’t remember why he wrote those words, the Blue Devils will expect to see that phrase on the board again.

“Aaron said, ‘You know you have to write that on the board every game we play now,'” Douglas said.