By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — The number of Gatorades the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s coaching staff owes Jeremiah Talton is beginning to creep into Jaeden Smith territory.
Could there be a new king of the charge in the Blue Devils’ locker room?
“I shift my guys towards (Talton) because I know he can take charges,” said Smith, the senior guard who led the Blue Devils in charges taken as a sophomore with 16 and drew eight more a year ago, earning a Gatorade from the coaches for each charge taken. “He’s been doing that very well.”
Talton, a 6-foot-4 freshman forward, drew two charges Saturday against Belleville East during a seven-possession stretch in which the Lancers failed to score a field goal and the Blue Devils turned a two-point game into an eight-point advantage.
The end result was a 46-32 victory in the consolation championship game of the 35th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic and the third straight game in which the Blue Devils held an opponent to 39 points or fewer.
“Defense leads to energy on offense for us,” Talton said. “Getting stops leads to scoring. To be able to do that consistently is a pretty big deal.”
Tide-turning moments like taking a charge raise the energy in an infinite manner.
Talton hadn’t taken a charge in the first eight games, but he drew two in the victory against Washington that preceded the trip to Collinsville. In the consolation semifinals against Belleville Althoff, Talton drew a charge on the Crusaders on the opening possession, setting the tone for a 14-2 opening salvo.
Add in the two against Belleville East and Talton looks increasingly comfortable in the defensive role.
“It’s putting your body on the line for the team,” Talton said. “Knowing it’s going to lead to more offensive possessions and bigger possessions in the game makes it worth it.”
A year ago, he admittedly wouldn’t have done it, but he’s grown used to the physical nature of varsity basketball even though his career is just 13 games old.
“After I took the first one, it was OK,” Talton said.
When he’s taken a second, a third, a fourth, etc., it’s delighted the coaching staff.
“I’m not sure Vegas had him taking more than two charges this year,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said with a chuckle. “That’s an area I know he’s been working on. He’s putting his body on the line for this team. That’s a huge commitment and sacrifice that he’s willing to make.”