By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 6, 2016 1:20 am
QUINCY — Garrett Gadeke watched enough video of the Rock Island boys basketball team to know which baseline inbounds play the Rocks tended to run in crucial situations.
“Everyone has a go-to out-of-bounds play,” the Quincy High School junior forward said. “That’s their play.”
Although Gadeke knew it, he was a half-step late in stopping it when Rock Island ran it in the first half Friday night.
“I got a finger on it,” Gadeke said. “So close.”
He got more than a finger on it the last time they ran it.
Coming out of a timeout with 1 minute, 9 seconds remaining in regulation and Quincy leading 52-50, Rock Island tried to slip Lacey Watson into the lane for a potential tying basket. Gadeke took the play away, stole the pass and handed off to teammate Mike Dade.
The senior point guard split two pairs of free throws in the final seconds, the last coming with 5.3 seconds remaining to seal the Blue Devils’ 53-50 victory at Blue Devil Gym and keeping Quincy in the Western Big Six Conference title chase. The Blue Devils (15-5, 5-2 WB6) remain two games behind Galesburg, but they are now alone in second place with three games remaining.
Rock Island (14-6, 4-3) has to hope Galesburg loses its final three games to and Quincy loses at least one to forge a tie, otherwise the Rocks’ run of six straight WB6 titles is over.
“(Assistant coach Doug) Bruner said earlier in the week this is conference elimination week,” Gadeke said. “That really got to us.”
The title chase wasn’t on the Blue Devils’ minds when a 10-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter evaporated.
Rock Island’s CJ Neville and Jason Jones combined to make three consecutive 3-pointers in the middle of the fourth quarter, tying the game at 48 with 3:44 to go. Less than 30 seconds later, Jones stole the ball in the backcourt and converted an uncontested layup for the Rocks’ first lead since Neville scored the first basket of the game.
The Blue Devils committed six turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We let Rock Island speed us up with their press,” Dade said. “We thought we had to keep up with them. But we got in the huddle, talked to each and really grounded ourselves at that point.”
Dade split a pair of free throws with three minutes remaining, leaving the Blue Devils down 50-49. They locked in defensively on the next three possessions, getting a blocked shot by Parker Bland, a one-and-done on a missed 3-pointer by Jones and a steal by Dade.
That led to a transition basket as Gadeke finished from the right block for a a 51-50 lead with 1:42 to go.
It was just his second field goal of the game as he finished with more steals (three) and rebounds (three).
“Garrett is a quiet assassin,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “He doesn’t need to stand out with points because he does everything else. That’s a special part about a high school player when you’re unselfish and don’t care about the credit.
“But when he needs to make plays, he’s more than capable.”
That was clearly the case at the defensive end, where Gadeke picked up his critical steal on Rock Island’s next possession,
“There wasn’t a whole of time and they’re looking for a quick bucket,” Gadeke said. “As I saw them start to move, I thought that was the play they were running. So I just stepped over and he threw it right in my hands.”
All that was left was for Dade to make his free throws. With Quincy up 52-50, Dade missed the first of two free throws before Rock Island coach Thom Sigel called a timeout. Dade confidently made the second free throw to ensure a 3-pointer wouldn’t beat the Blue Devils.
The Rocks got off a desperation 3-point attempt from inside the half-court stripe that didn’t come close as time expired.
“I knew once I missed the first one I still had a chance to make it where we were safe,” said Dade, who scored three points, all in the fourth quarter from the free-throw line. “They could make a three, we could go into overtime and we could still buy ourself time. So it was big to hit that second one, and fortunately it sealed the game.”