Trailing third-seeded Springfield Southeast by three points at halftime in Friday night’s quarterfinals of the 29th annual Collinsville Schnucks Holiday Classic, the Quincy High School boys basketball team knew one way to turn the tide.
The Blue Devils had to get better on the boards.
Quincy was outrebounded 18-12 in the first half and gave up seven offensive rebounds. However, a spirited effort led by 6-foot-7 senior forward Jason Salrin changed that. The Blue Devils limited the Spartans to two offensive boards in the second half and outrebounded them 19-14 over the final 16 minutes in earning a 51-44 victory.
Salrin posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, overcoming foul trouble to be one of the biggest factors on the floor.
“Jason was a beast on the glass for us,” Quincy coach Sean Taylor said. “I thought his willingness to attack the glass was impressive.”
Salrin picked up his fourth foul with 4 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter and sat the remainder of the period. He returned to the lineup at the start of the fourth quarter, played aggressive and stayed in the game.
Playing from behind
After enduring a scoreless stretch of nearly five minutes during the second quarter, the Blue Devils were forced to play from behind. Not that it bothered them much.
“Coach sets us goals, saying we need to be tied by this time, get a bigger lead by this much time,” Salrin said. “We have our goals and we achieve them.”
Quincy trailed by as many as six points late in the second quarter and began the third quarter down by three. It took the Blue Devils 3:35 to tie the game and 5:22 to regain the lead. After a series of lead changes and ties, Quincy took the lead for good on Martin Kvitle’s layup with 4:24 to play.
It kickstarted an 8-0 run that gave the Blue Devils control.
“I thought we learned how to play against them,” Taylor said. “In the late first and early second quarters, they sped us up and we made some poor decisions. After that, we got it to the rim or made a backup dribble when it wasn’t there. We learned what to do.”
A big embrace
In the closing seconds, Taylor replaced Cole Abbey with Lincoln Elbe, and as Abbey came to the bench, the Quincy coach grabbed his senior guard, gave him a hearty hug and reminded Abbey his commitment to defense was big reason the Blue Devils won.
“I just thought he really competed,” Taylor said. “They all competed, but Cole has made so many big strides from last season to this season, and I don’t think he’s reached his ceiling.”
Abbey’s task Friday night was to slow Southeast guard Jagger Anderson, who scored just five points over the final 12 minutes. Instead of trying to strip Anderson of the ball, Abbey maintained his position
“The main reason I was proud of him is often he tries to pick it and take the easy way out,” Taylor said. “This time, he kept Anderson in front of him, and that wasn’t easy. If he can guard like that, he can guard Rocky and quick teams that we are going to play.”