The Blue Devils take on Granite City Wednesday, December 28th at 9:30pm.
The Blue Devils take on Granite City Wednesday, December 28th at 9:30pm.
By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
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.
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.”
By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
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.”
By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
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.
The new merchandise catalog is in! If you are interested in purchasing anything let me know. Payment is due prior to November 8th (which is when the shop closes). Items that have “PZ AVAILABLE” mean that you can personalize the item with NAME and/or NUMBER. Most of the items run S-3XL. Let us know if you are interested.
Checks made out to QHS BASKETBALL and can be mailed to 3322 Maine St, Quincy, IL 62301 ATT: Boys Basketball or Andy Douglas.