Let it rain: Blue Devils make 15 treys in victory

By  Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 24, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 24, 2017 11:20 pm

QUINCY — The Quincy High School boys basketball players knew it wouldn’t be easy to replace Aaron Shoot.

Friday night, the efficieny of the offense made it easy to forget the senior guard wasn’t there.

Junior guard Jaeden Smith made five 3-pointers in the first quarter to spring the Blue Devils to an early lead in a 68-45 victory over Chicago Dunbar in the 47th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament at Blue Devil Gym.

“I was feeling good. During warmups I felt great, and it just carried over into the game,” said Smith, who went 8 of 14 from 3-point range and finished with a game-high 24 points. “We always want to start fast and come out strong to set the tone for the rest of the game.”

The rest of the Blue Devils (2-0) got the memo, as they went 9 of 11 from the field in the first eight minutes to build a 26-9 lead.

That was with Shoot sitting on the bench. After suffering a sprained left ankle during Thursday’s season opener against Providence St. Mel, Shoot was ruled out for the remainder of the weekend.

Quincy will face St. Louis Northwest Academy at 7:30 p.m. Saturday looking for a clean sweep of the tournament. The Hornets suffered a 72-59 loss to St. Mel on Friday night.

“We knew that we were playing without one of our biggest offensive threats,” QHS guard Jirehl Brock said. “Jaeden, being the shooter that he is, kept firing it up. Everybody builds off of that and everybody starts hitting.”

QHS maintained its lead in the second quarter to take a 39-25 advantage into halftime. Six different Blue Devils scored in the first 16 minutes.

“(Smith) was huge tonight. He had the confidence that we’ve come to know him to have,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “He stepped up and knocked down those outside shots. Still, we can’t expect one guy to carry the load for us. We were lucky to have a few different guys step up at random times to make plays for us.”

The lead grew to 55-35 after three quarters as the Blue Devils had 12 steals. QHS finished with 13 takeaways, led by Smith, Brock and Ben Amos with three apiece.

“I liked how we’re all over the place. We were flying around,” Douglas said. “Deflections give us energy, like gas to cars. Once we get those, we know we’re doing our job and getting in passing lanes.”

The Blue Devils emptied their bench in the fourth quarter without having a dropoff on the defensive end, as Dunbar had just two field goals in the final eight minutes that included a halfcourt heave that beat the final buzzer.

“Our program has hung its hat on defense,” Douglas said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first guy or the last guy on the bench. We have a team that cares about getting stops.”

Brock finished with 10 points, while Adonte Crider had 14 points off the bench. Amos had nine points, a pair of blocks and eight rebounds as the Blue Devils outperformed the Mightymen 27-16 on the glass.

Blue Devils’ confidence grows as injury creates adversity

By  Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 24, 2017 3:15 am

QUINCY — Of all the lessons the Quincy High School boys basketball team learned Thursday night, the most valuable is also the most worrisome.

The Blue Devils figured out they can withstand an injury.

Still, how long senior point guard Aaron Shoot will be sidelined is cause for concern.

Shoot scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter of a 76-69 victory over Providence St. Mel in the 47th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament and seemed well on his way to an epic night. Yet, with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter, he made a jump pass in the backcourt, landed awkwardly and rolled over in pain.

He limped off the floor and sat on the edge of the bench with his shoe off and an ice bag wrapped around his sprained left ankle.

“Aaron is our ring leader and we all know that,” Quincy junior guard Jirehl Brock said. “He’s a veteran guy, and he’s a guy who really knows how to control the ball and control tempo. Tonight, we learned we’re going to have to find ways to do without sometimes.

“He’s not going to be able to be in the whole game every game. We’re going to have to find ways to maneuver without him, and this was a prime example of it.”

Shoot didn’t return and watched as the Knights trimmed a 16-point deficit to nine less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. Eventually, the Blue Devils settled down, pushed the lead back to as many as 20 and didn’t have to sweat out the final minutes.

“It doesn’t feel so good when you have that kind of ending,” said Quincy senior forward Ben Amos, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and a steal. “But we played very well to begin with. It was a great start. At points, we showed what we can do, and that’s what is important.

“We didn’t play like we should play the whole time, but we did play like we can play at spots.”

When that happened, Providence St. Mel had no answer.

Tied at 9 six minutes into the game, Quincy took the lead for good by finishing the first quarter on a 6-0 run with all six points scored by Shoot. Amos buried a 3-pointer on the Blue Devils’ first possession of the second quarter, and defensively, they turned up the intensity.

The run turned into a 15-0 spurt capped by Brock’s steal and layup with 4:21 remaining in the first half that gave the Blue Devils a 24-9 edge. The Knights committed six turnovers and missed six shots in that stretch.

“The way our guys came out was our biggest concern,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “How are we going to open the season? I thought our guys did a really good job of staying focused and sticking to the gameplan.”

That was to be physical against the bigger Knights. The Blue Devils did not allow an offensive rebound during the Knights’ drought and were outrebounded only 35-33 overall. Brock finished with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, while all eight Blue Devils who played grabbed at least one rebounds.

“Our guys did a really good job of finding people,” Douglas said. “They may not have gotten every single rebound, but they found guys and punished and boxed them out to give themselves a chance.”

The Blue Devils ended the half strong, too. They scored on four of their final six possessions with Shoot burying a step-back 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Not bad for a player who rolled his right ankle in practice Wednesday and was forced to sit and rest it.

Now, it’s more of the same. Shoot, who was given a walking boot before leaving Blue Devil Gym on Thursday night, will ice and rest his left ankle to decrease the swelling.

“Whether it’s tomorrow, Saturday or next week, we just hope he gets back healthy,” Douglas said.

Until then, the Blue Devils gained some confidence they can thrive.

“It’s difficult and we rely on him heavily,” Amos said. “He’s a huge presence for us. He’s great at breaking presses. We showed we can pass the ball really well, we can break presses and we can handle it without him.”

We are excited to announce that we are offering an opportunity for kids going into 3rd-5th grades to develop their game. Starting in June we will have Mondays and Tuesdays blocked off for kids to get into the gym and work on skills and scrimmage. Special thank you to our Lil’ Devils coaching staff for stepping up and heading this. If interested contact Coach Golden and/or Coach Longcor (info on the picture).
Have a great summer and GO BLUE DEVILS!

Blue Devils miss mark in losing regional opener

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Mar. 2, 2017 1:35 am Updated: Mar. 2, 2017 4:56 am

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — One by one, the Quincy High School boys basketball players emerged from the locker room.

They pulled their hoodies over their heads. They buried their blurry-eyed faces in the embrace of loved ones. They somberly headed to the bus for the final road home.

A season filled with so much promise was over, brought to an abrupt halt by an offense that had no rhythm and a defense victimized by a barrage of 3-pointers.

“Hurt and shock,” junior guard Aaron Shoot said after seventh-seeded Alton eliminated fourth-seeded Quincy from the Class 4A Granite City Regional with a 53-43 victory in Wednesday’s semifinals at Memorial Gym. “That’s all it is. Heartbreak when there’s no more games for those guys, those seniors.”

The inability to finish made it all the more frustrating.

The Blue Devils shot just 35.3 percent from the field and 13.3 percent from 3-point range, forcing them to play catch-up the final three quarters.

Quincy (20-6) trailed 21-19 at halftime after making 8 of 26 shots from the field (30.8 percent) with eight misses within 5 feet of the basket.

“We executed, and we got the ball inside,” said senior forward Parker Bland, who made 7 of 19 shots from the field and scored a team-high 14 points. “Coach said it at halftime that the shots weren’t falling in the first half and hopefully they’d start falling in the second half.

“They didn’t fall either.”

Alton took advantage. The Redbirds, who will face top-seeded and top-ranked Edwardsville in Friday’s regional championship, used back-to-back 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter to extend its lead to 40-32 before Shoot hit the second of two second-half 3-pointers to pull the Blue Devils within 40-35 with 5:08 to play.

However, Quincy made just three of its final 10 shots and couldn’t convert defensive stops into points.

“Sometimes you have nights where you can’t get anything to go,” Shoot said. “The best teams are able to play through those nights and still get a win. We can’t make excuses. We just didn’t make enough shots.”

Alton (16-11) did.

With Maurice Edwards and Dereaun Clay in foul trouble, Redbirds guard Kevin Caldwell picked up the slack. He made five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds as Alton shot 47 percent from the field.

Alton point guard Ty’ohn Trimble had 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting as the Redbirds’ backcourt outscored the Blue Devils’ three guards 34-13.

“We knew we’d have to play well against Quincy’s bigs,” Alton coach Eric Smith said. “We thought we’d be OK with the guards because we have three kids with a lot of experience, and I think those kids played pretty well.”

They made the Blue Devils pay for not contesting their shots. The Redbirds made 9 of 21 from 3-point range.

Quincy allowed 20 3-pointers in losing its final two games of the year.

“It’s disappointing to not see us do the next thing,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “We got 90 percent of the play made, but then we dropped 5 percent. We got to closeout, but instead of having our hands up at the shooters, we had our hands down or at their stomach.

“When you’ve got guys who are shooting it well and are that hot, it’s little things like those that keep you from being successful.”

It’s what allowed Alton to end Quincy’s season for a second straight year.

Spoiler alert: Maroons ruin Blue Devils’ chance to winning WB6 title outright

Moline’s Nate Hurt and Quincy High’s Jirehl Brock tangle for the ball during Quincy High’s game against Moline in the Blue Devil Gym on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Moline beat Quincy 45-41 to share the WB6 title. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Feb. 24, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 25, 2017 2:35 am

QUINCY — The team that turned the Western Big Six Conference title chase from a runaway into a dogfight finished its job as the ultimate spoiler.

It also ruined a celebration that began a little too soon.

The Moline boys basketball team made 11 3-pointers and closed Friday night’s game on a 9-2 run, upending Quincy High School 45-41 at Blue Devil Gym and costing the Blue Devils an outright WB6 championship.

“Upset, frustrated, probably shocked a little bit,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said of the postgame locker room atmosphere.

It was the most distraught locker room the Blue Devils have experienced

“To say the least,” Quincy senior forward Parker Bland said.

That’s because so much was at stake.

The Blue Devils (20-5, 7-3 WB6) saw a 28-game home winning streak snapped and missed out on going undefeated at home in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. They also had the opportunity for the program’s 12th outright WB6 title — Quincy and Rock Island share the record with 11 — but were forced to settle for a three-way tie with Rock Island and United Township.

It is the third time in WB6 history three teams shared the title and the second time the league champion finished with three losses.

Quincy had secured at least a tie for the title going into Friday’s game, and “2017” had already been painted on the north wall of Blue Devil Gym along with the years of the other 21 conference titles.

It wasn’t inaccurate, but celebrating it might have been a little premature.

“Our emotions weren’t really with us tonight,” said Bland, who led Quincy with 12 points. “They were kind of all over, scattered around. I’m not one to make excuses. We should have come out here and battled and played like we know how to and we just didn’t.”

It allowed Moline (19-8, 6-4 WB6) to get off to a roaring start.

Deonte Billups hit a 3-pointer from the left corner on the Maroons’ opening possession and they proceeded to hit four more treys in the first quarter in building an 18-13 lead.

“We really weren’t with it tonight,” Bland said. “We came out with kind of a slow tempo. We didn’t come out like we usually come out.”

The Blue Devils gained some traction in the second quarter and went into halftime down only 25-24. A 7-0 run by Quincy to begin the third quarter changed the tempo as Moline failed to score on its first seven possessions of the second half.

But back-to-back 3-pointers by Billups and Jake Pittington erased the Blue Devils’ six-point advantage in just 29 seconds.

“We hung together and had some good possessions,” said Moline coach Sean Taylor, who coached Quincy from 2003-2014 and was on the opposing sideline for the second time since being fired. “We didn’t get rattled.”

The teams traded the lead four times with two ties over an eight-minute span before Moline took control on Nathan Hurt’s 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining. Hurt also made two free throws with 15.7 seconds remaining and finished with 16 points.

“He made some shots and controlled it,” Taylor said. “Defensively, he was really good all night.”

Hurt’s 3-pointer was the dagger.

“It went so quick,” Douglas said. “It’s a tie game with 2 minutes, 40 seconds or whatever was left, and then just like that it changes. When you’re playing a team that is as hot as they were this game, it can change just like that. We didn’t make enough plays to combat that.”

Quincy didn’t make a field goal the final 4:30 and missed its final five shots. The Blue Devils shot just 38.1 percent from the field and were 3 of 12 from 3-point range.

“The energy wasn’t there,” Douglas said. “The focus wasn’t there.”

It allowed Moline to win at Blue Devil Gym for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

“I hope they understand how difficult it is to win down here,” Taylor said. “It’s tougher to do against a really, really good team that has strength and quickness and shooting. I don’t know if we realize how good of a win that is.”