Be prepared: Blue Devils’ approach allows them to blow away Maple Leafs for WB6 victory
QUINCY — The schedule listed Friday night’s opponent as Geneseo.
It may as well have read Homewood-Flossmoor, Bolingbrook or any other state-ranked team the Quincy High School boys basketball team could conceivably face.
“Your preparation is for the best teams on your schedule, and that doesn’t change when you’re not playing the best teams on your schedule,” Quincy senior guard Tyler Sprick said. “We came out here with the mentality that we had to come out of here with the win and show our dominance.”
The Blue Devils accomplished it all.
Quincy, ranked third in the Class 4A state poll, scored the game’s first 28 points Friday night while holding Geneseo scoreless the first 7 minutes, 38 seconds. By halftime, the Blue Devils’ advantage was 53-8 as they waltzed to a 75-13 Western Big 6 Conference victory during the Quincy Shootout at Blue Devil Gym.
“Every week, we play each other in practice like we’re playing the best team in the nation,” said senior guard Seth Rupert, one of several reserves to see extensive playing time. “Every single game we go into, we act like we’re going up against No. 1.”
This week was no different, although the Blue Devils (18-1, 6-0 WB6) were fully aware who the opponent was.
Quincy beat Geneseo 64-23 to open WB6 play on the road back in December, and since then, the Maple Leafs had lost 10 games in a row. In three of their previous four WB6 games, the Maple Leafs had scored 17 or fewer points.
It would have been easy to take the game for granted, especially when the score become so lopsided so quickly.
“You try not to,” Sprick said.
Still, Sprick admitted the Blue Devils had empathy for the Maple Leafs, who are 1-16 overall and 0-7 in the WB6.
“As much as you want to score and you want to have the ball and you want to play defense, you do feel bad,” Sprick said. “Those kids are coming out here, they’re going to practice, they’re wanting to play and win, too.”
Geneseo simply couldn’t match up with Quincy’s length or quickness.
The Blue Devils’ first four baskets were scored at the rim with Keshaun Thomas establishing himself on the block by scoring on his first two touches. The Maple Leafs didn’t score until sophomore guard Landon Nordstrom buried an elbow jumper with 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
A pair of 3-pointers by Geneseo’s Owen Parker allowed the Maple Leafs to match the Blue Devils with six points apiece in the first three minutes of the second quarter before the Blue Devils responded with a 17-0 run to close the half.
They did so without trying to glitzy with their play. They established the post, played inside out and imposed their will the first 16 minutes.
“They weren’t worried about making the highlight plays here or there,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “This year, these guys have taken that to heart. … Last year, we didn’t prepare right for teams like this, which led to us not being able to be ready for the biggest games on our schedule. These guys’ mentality this season has been second to none.”
Thomas led the Blue Devils with 10 points and four rebounds, while Isiah Talton and Kamren Wires each scored eight points. The bench was responsible for 42 points.
The Blue Devils will face Imhotep Charter of Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Imhotep beat St. Louis Chaminade 66-48 in Friday’s finale.
“If you want to be the best and beat the best, there are no days off or practices off,” Douglas said. “You have to go hard and prepare for that top team. Our guys did that all week long.”
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