Ugly But Effective: Blue Devils overcome shooting woes in first home game of 2016

AR-301239942By Eric Stratman Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 23, 2016 1:50 am

QUINCY — Playing its first home game in more than a month, the Quincy High School boy’s basketball team wanted to give the hometown crowd something to cheer about.

A 35-34 victory over Western Big Six Conference foe Moline accomplished that, but don’t expect QHS coach Andy Douglas or the Blue Devils to be satisfied with the effort.

“Ugly basketball” was the common phrase among the players and coaches in the locker room after the game.

Maybe the best thing about Saturday night’s game against Batavia is that it will quickly erase the memory of Friday night’s game.

“You never want to sit on a game like this, and I’m glad we’re playing again tomorrow,” Douglas said. “This team has been very good at putting games like tonight behind us.”

The game wasn’t pretty, but the victory allowed the Blue Devils to stay in contention for a conference championship and also preserved their perfect record after seven home games this season.

“Maybe playing at home had a little to do with our play tonight, wanting to come out and put on a good show for the hometown crowd,” Douglas said.

QHS (12-4, 3-2 WB6) trailed 32-29 when Michael Dade scored back-to-back baskets, the second of which coming with 1:51 remaining in the game. Neither team would score again until Garrett Gadeke converted a pair of free throws with 20.7 seconds remaining, giving the Blue Devils a 35-32 lead.

Moline’s Anfernee Crompton attempted to tie the game with a 3-pointer from the wing, but the shot was long and Mitchell Owens grabbed the loose ball for the Maroons. He was fouled with 10.9 seconds remaining, and he made both free throws to make the score 35-34.

After timeouts by both teams, QHS inbounded the ball to Aaron Shoot, who was double teamed in the corner. Shoot managed to escape the double team, but his pass slipped through Dade’s hands and resulted in a jump ball with 4.9 seconds remaining.

Moline had the possession arrow point its way, and it had the ball under its own basket, but Crompton’s 3-pointer from the corner was short.

The Blue Devils didn’t score for the first five minutes of the game. The Maroons (8-10, 1-4 WB6) jumped out to a 6-0 lead and threatened to put the Blue Devils in an even bigger hole when 6-foot-7 Andy McLaughlin had an open lane to the basket for an easy layup, but Parker Bland blocked the shot from behind and Shoot nailed a 3-pointer on the next possession to end the drought.

The Blue Devils trailed 9-7 after the first quarter. All of Quincy’s points came from reserves as Deven Smith scored a pair of baskets.

“Our job is to come in and give a spark, and I thought we did that tonight,” Smith said.

“Our bench play in the first half was crucial to the outcome of the game,” Douglas said. “They were decisive tonight and were ready to score when some of our regulars were a bit out of rhythm.”

Carson Gay gave the Blue Devils a boost in the second quarter at the front of their 1-2-2 zone defense, forcing Moline out of its deliberate offense and helping the Blue Devils get out in transition.

“Carson needs to be a guy who comes into the game and guards,” Douglas said. “He changes the game.”

Bland converted a pair of conventional three-point plays in the quarter giving the Blue Devils a 19-17 halftime lead.

Jacob Jobe, Quincy’s top scorer this season, attempted just one field goal as Moline had a man in his face the entire game.

“Jacob is going to see that the rest of the year,” Douglas said. “He has a huge X on his back.”

The teams combined to miss 24 of 27 3-point shots, and they were a combined 25 of 75 from the field.

QHS was led by Bland with 9 points. McLaughlin led the Maroons with 14 points and Crompton had 13.