By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Plan A wasn’t working, so Quincy High School boys basketball coach Sean Taylor went to Plan B.
That’s better known as Mike Davis.
Determined to slow Rock Island Alleman gunner Tyler Yeocum with a double team, Taylor chose to have Davis, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, run at Yeocum instead of bringing one of the guards from the wing to help.
When he made that move at the start of the second quarter, Quincy’s Western Big Six Conference title push went into high gear. The Blue Devils limited Yeocum to four points — all from the free-throw line — in the second and third quarters combined and came away with a 67-54 victory Friday night at Blue Devil Gym.
“It made somebody else beat us,” Quincy guard Martin Kvitle said.
No one else could. In fact, no one has since Rock Island did a month ago.
Because of that, the Blue Devils (18-6, 6-3 WB6) will face the Rocks (14-10, 7-2) at home next Friday night with a chance to share the WB6 title. The Rocks guaranteed themselves a share of their third straight crown Friday night by beating Moline 80-63.
So the two winningest programs in WB6 history will go head-to-head with the Blue Devils hoping to win their league-record 20th title.
“I don’t plan on losing on senior night and I don’t plan on losing at home,” Quincy forward DeAngelo Dean said. “I especially don’t plan on giving up the title at home.”
The Blue Devils used that sort of determination to turn the tide Friday night.
Yeocum, who averages 23 points per game and was coming off a 38-point performance last week against East Moline, scored 10 points in the first quarter and had two assists as teammate John Barrett knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. That concerned Taylor.
So after Yeocum hit a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to tie the game at 18, Taylor made an adjustment and turned Davis loose.
“Mike is really good at corralling people,” Taylor said.
He reined in Yeocum.
After making his first three field-goal attempts, Yeocum connected on just one of his next 10 shots. Following that buzzer beater, the senior guard didn’t convert again until burying a 3-pointer from about 25 feet with 1 minute, 40 seconds left in regulation.
Quincy led by 14 points when he did that.
“I thought we did a great job of making Yeocum give the ball up,” Taylor said. “Harrison (Elbe) and Mason (Fairley) did a great job when he gave it up of making it hard to get it back.”
When Yeocum didn’t get it back, Alleman (16-9, 5-4) tended to rush things. The Pioneers shot 34 percent from the field (16 of 47), but during the middle two quarters and the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, Alleman shot just 23.1 percent (6 of 26).
“A few baskets here or there could have kept it in striking distance,” Alleman coach Pat Rangel said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t hit a few shots and had a couple of bad possessions. Against a team like Quincy, you can’t afford to do that.”
Davis played a pivotal role in forcing Alleman into many of those mistakes.
“He has so much energy,” Dean said. “I don’t how he does it. He has so much energy.”
Dean wasn’t lacking for energy either.
After making just two of his first six shots, Dean found his rhythm in the second quarter. He connected on five straight shots to push Quincy to a 30-26 halftime lead and finished by hitting 10 of his final 11 shots, scoring 27 points with nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
His back-to-back baskets in the final 44 seconds of the third quarter helped keep Alleman at bay after the Pioneers closed within three points with 1:42 to go in the quarter.
“We had to score in spurts and keep up with their rallies,” Kvitle said. “Every time they scored, we answered.”
Kvitle added 19 points, hitting 5 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter, and Davis scored 12 points.
“I think we’re a different team than when we played Rocky the first time,” Kvitle said. “Look at tonight, we had balanced scoring.”
It’s been the case in the four-game conference winning streak that has put Quincy in this position.
“If a group deserves to play for a conference title, it’s these guys,” Taylor said. “We have an opportunity. Now, we have to take advantage of it.”