By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 19, 2015 2:00 am
QUINCY — When Aaron Shoot decided to rise and fire from 3-point range with the Quincy High School boys basketball team desperately trying to fend off United Township, no one second-guessed that decision.
Actually, the Blue Devils might like to see him take that chance more often.
“I knew he could shoot. That’s his last name,” said Quincy point guard Mike Dade, who made the pass that led to Shoot’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining in the Blue Devils’ 46-40 Western Big Six Conference victory Friday night at Blue Devil Gym. “He was born to do that.”
Still, it was a surprising trigger pull by a sophomore making his first varsity start.
“I feel confident in myself,” said Shoot, who started in place of senior Jake Jobe, who sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons. “I’ve worked hard and the whole team has worked hard. We have confidence in each other.”
Shoot has gained his coach’s confidence, too.
“The kid has the last name for a reason,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “That’s a big-time shot to shoot. He’s growing, and he showed that tonight. That’s what we need from him.”
The Blue Devils (7-1, 2-1 WB6) needed confidence and composure when their comfortable 10-point lead evaporated.
United Township’s Jacob Meeske hit back-to-back 3-pointers with three minutes left in the third quarter to trim Quincy’s lead to 26-22, and another six-point run in the fourth quarter pulled the Panthers within 32-30 with 4:25 remaining.
Free throws from Dade and Shoot allowed the Blue Devils to push the lead back to 36-30 with three minutes to play.
“That’s experience showing,” said Shoot, who went 2 of 3 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 10 points. “Dade is a great leader. I don’t think we could have done that without him. He calmed us all down and guided us all around and didn’t let us lose that.”
United Township’s relentless effort on the glass nearly negated it.
The Panthers (7-2, 1-2 WB6) collected three offensive rebounds on a single possession, leading to Tray Buchanan’s 3-pointer from the wing with 2:28 to go. After a Quincy turnover, Buchanan missed a 3-pointer from the left wing, but
United Township’s Izaya Sims grabbed the offensive rebound and made the putback for a one-point game.
UT had seven offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points in the fourth quarter.
However, when it mattered most, the Blue Devils cleaned up.
After Buchanan tied the game at 38 and Shoot followed with his clutch three, Buchanan and Dade traded free throws, leaving the Panthers down 43-40 with 35 seconds left. Buchanan attempted a 3-pointer from the left wing that rimmed long and Sims grabbed the offensive rebound. His putback attempt rimmed out, and Quincy’s Parker Bland outmuscled the Panthers for the defensive rebound.
Although knocked to the ground as he came down with the board, Bland called timeout before being tied up and potentially losing possession.
“Coach Douglas came specifically to me and said, ‘We have three timeouts. Get the rebound and call timeout,'” Bland said. “Off the missed shot, I knew I had to get it.”
Dade and Bland combined to make 3 of 4 free throws in the final nine seconds to seal the victory.
“We didn’t do too hot on the boards tonight,” said Bland, who scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds although the Panthers held a 31-25 rebounding edge. “We had to follow through on our free throws, and we had to execute. We did that in the end.”
The Panthers struggled to do that throughout. United Township went 4 of 20 from the field in the first half, finished 13 of 50 overall and knocked down just 6 of 29 3-point attempts. Buchanan scored a game-high 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting, while Meeske was 3 of 10 from 3-point range and had 11 points, six below his season average.
“I just don’t like us offensively,” United Township coach Ryan Webber said. “It wasn’t always execution — it was not finishing at the basket. We just didn’t shoot the ball from the perimeter very well. It was a collective effort.”