By David Adam Herald-Whig
QUINCY — For the second consecutive year, a technical foul turned the tide in the annual basketball showdown between Quincy High School and Quincy Notre Dame.
A technical foul on Blue Devils coach Andy Douglas led to four consecutive free throws for the Raiders and a 34-34 score with three minutes to play in the third quarter. However, QHS buckled down and didn’t allow a field goal for the next 6 1/2 minutes and went on to win 58-46 on Saturday night in the Pit.
QND was leading last year’s game 39-38 late in the third quarter when an offensive foul against Jacob Mayfield was followed by a technical foul. The Raiders eventually lost their momentum and lost 68-50.
QND was trailing 34-30 on Saturday when Jacob Ary’s jump shot was blocked by Tommy Ray. Mac Little swatted the rebound ahead to Ray, who missed a layup while being harassed by Aaron Shoot. Official Mike Bromley called a foul on Shoot, and when Douglas protested, Bromley slapped him with the technical.
“I didn’t think Aaron hit him,” Douglas said. “I thought he swiped at the ball. I was a little upset about that. I told the coaching staff, ‘What’s it going to take to get a foul called on our end of the court?’ I found out.”
This time, the technical foul gave the Blue Devils reason to regroup — and redouble their defensive efforts. Shoot gathered the team to talk while Ray made his free throws.
“I was wondering if we were going to stay composed, but I knew we would because of our senior leadership,” junior guard Jaeden Smith said. “We know how to play together and play hard.”
The Blue Devils closed the third quarter with seven straight points. Shoot stole the ball for a layup, then found Ben Amos for a basket. His pull-up jumper from the free-throw line was followed by an Amos free throw.
“(The Blue Devils) got together, and they got their composure,” Raiders coach Kevin Meyer said. “We didn’t lose our compusure, but we were like, ‘Oh, hey, we’re tied.’ There was a little different sense of urgency on the other side.”
Smith opened the fourth quarter with a layup on a pass from Jirehl Brock, and after Ray split two free throws, Shoot scored with 6:31 to play to give QHS the biggest lead of the game at 45-35 with 6:31 to play.
Meanwhile, the Raiders went 13 consecutive possessions without a basket until Ray made a 3-pointer with 4:27 to play. Amos closed the Blue Devils’ defensive run by blocking shots by Ray and Little, then forcing Ray into a difficult shot along the baseline.
“We’re very aggressive defensively, and a lot of teams QND faces play more relaxed zones,” Amos said. “We pressure off the first pass, and it wasn’t something they experienced at our tempo.
“If they do get by us, I’m back there.”
The Blue Devils’ zone choked off any sort of inside advantage the Raiders have enjoyed against several opponents season. Jase Wallingford, Jonny Bottorff and Clay Venvertloh combined for just six shots and 11 points.
“Honestly, I don’t really know why we didn’t get it inside,” Wallingford said. “They were just flying around. If we do get it in there, everybody collapses and we get more open shots, but they just did a good job and stopped us from what we do best.”
QND made just six 2-point shots in the game, none coming in the second half, and turned the ball over 21 times.
“We were stagnant, flat-footed, in the first half,” Douglas said. “I told them to extend a little bit (in the second half). Don’t be afraid to anticipate some passes. I thought we had a little more bounce and a little more energy.”
“I give (the Blue Devils) a ton of credit,” Meyer said. “They did a good job of rotating. We have to get the ball in the middle (of the zone) quickly, and we have to attack before they rotate, but we didn’t do what we wanted to do. We moved the ball side from side, and that wasn’t good for us.”
The Raiders eventually cut the lead to six points on three occasions in the fourth quarter but could get no closer.
Little had 12 for the Raiders. Shoot had 23 for the Blue Devils. Amos scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots — as well as advice for his coach the next time a technical foul might be coming.
“Keep doing it,” he said with a grin. “It’s a motivator. It puts a spark in us tonight. We took it upon ourselves, and we all stepped up.”