Blue Devils adapt, adjust and apply pressure to keep WB6 win streak going


Quincy High School's Terron Cartmill, center, and Reid O'Brien, right, knock the ball away from Geneseo's Bristol Lewis after trapping him along the sideline during the first half of Tuesday night's game at Blue Devil Gym. Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Leave it to COVID-19 to disrupt the rhythm of the night.

Still, the Quincy High School boys basketball team adapted.

Due to positive COVID tests within its freshman team, Geneseo was forced to cancel Tuesday night’s preliminary game. So instead of watching the underclassmen play before going to the locker room to get suited up, the Blue Devils officiated scrimmages between grade school teams in the Lil’ Devils program.

There was an exceptionally long pregame shootaround after that.

Call that less than ideal for everyone.

“We handled it OK,” QHS senior swingman Jeremiah Talton said. “It may not have been our best performance, but we were able to get some things done on the defensive end. Our offense is rolling pretty good right now.”

The Maple Leafs couldn’t overcome that. Talton buried a 3-pointer from the left wing on the Blue Devils’ initial possession, and they forced six turnovers on the Maple Leafs’ first nine possessions. It allowed Quincy to build a double-digit lead six minutes into the game that propelled them to a 61-42 Western Big 6 Conference victory at Blue Devil Gym.

“It’s not an easy thing to do when you throw high school kids off their normal schedule and then ask them to come out and perform,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “That’s where your maturity kicks in and you have the understanding we’re not necessarily playing against them as much as we are doing what we need to do defensively and offensively.

“Although it wasn’t pretty tonight, we got the job done and we move on to the next one.”

The next one is quite important.

Quincy (14-3, 6-0 WB6) travels to Galesburg on Friday night looking to reach the midpoint of the conference season undefeated and in first place. The Blue Devils have a one-game lead over Rock Island (10-6, 5-1 WB6) and a two-game advantage on Galesburg (15-3, 4-2 WB6) and Moline (13-3, 4-2 WB6).

“We’re trying to continue that trend and keep winning games,” Talton said. 

The Rocks beat the Silver Streaks 84-63 Tuesday night, but Friday’s outcome still impacts the WB6 title chase.

“It’s a quick turnaround,” Douglas said. “We’ll dive into our Galesburg stuff the next two days and be ready to roll.”

Despite the disruptions, the Blue Devils were ready to roll Tuesday night.

Talton’s 3-pointer off a Terron Cartmill assist to open the game was met by a lengthy possession by the Maple Leafs that ended with a Bristol Lewis layin. Eight empty possessions and more than four minutes elapsed before Lewis scored again.

At that point, Quincy led 12-2 and seemed in control.

Lewis challenged that. He scored Geneseo’s first 11 points and pulled the Maple Leafs within 16-13 with a little less than seven minutes remaining in the first half. Quincy came right back with a 16-2 to close the second quarter, scoring eight points off Geneseo turnovers.

Overall, the Maple Leafs committed 20 turnovers, which led to 27 points for the Blue Devils.

“Our defense wasn’t the best tonight,” Talton said. “Our communication wasn’t as loud. But we had to work through that, get stops and let that get us going so we could score. We were able to do that.”

The lead reached 20 points on a Talton 3-pointer midway through the third quarter as Quincy never relented. Talton finished with 27 points, while Bradley Longcor III had 19 points.

More importantly, they continued attacking the rim and applying pressure deep into the fourth quarter.

“We remind ourselves to keep pushing and that’s our focus right now,” Talton said. “Every day when we come to practice, our goal is to keep continuing the same trend and finding ways to win games.”

Lewis did all he could to make things interesting, scoring a game-high 28 points.

“He does a really good job of being patient,” Douglas said. “You know he’s going to get a lot of shots up. We didn’t do a very good of knowing where he was, and he took advantage of it.”

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