Blue Devils’ chase of WB6 crown comes down to three-game gauntlet after dispatching Pioneers
QUINCY — A slight rewrite to the lyrics of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes” might be apropos for the Quincy High School boys basketball team heading into the homestretch of the Western Big 6 Conference season.
“Well, it’s one for the chance, two for the show,
Three for the glory, now go, Devils, go.“
Tuesday night’s 78-33 victory over Rock Island Alleman at Blue Devil Gym kept the Blue Devils, ranked fourth in Class 4A, in position to win the league title for the second time in the past three seasons and the 25th time in program history.
One victory secures no worse than a second-place finish. Two victories ensure no worse than a tie for the title. Three and the title is Quincy’s outright.
“This is what we’ve been preparing for all season long, really since the end of last year,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “The guys have done a good job of putting themselves in position to win this outright. In order to do that, we have to get work and focus on the next one.”
The final junket of three conference games in seven days begins Friday night at Moline (22-5, 9-3 WB6), which trails Quincy (25-2, 10-1 WB6) and Rock Island (21-6, 10-1 WB6) by two games in its quest to repeat as the league champion.
After that, the Blue Devils face back-to-back, head-to-head battles with the Rocks, who face Alleman on Friday night.
The January 12 matchup at Rock Island was postponed due to weather, so the Rocks will come to Blue Devil Gym on February 13 and the Blue Devils head north on February 15 in the regular-season finale.
“This is arguably the toughest stretch of conference games we’ve had in a while,” said Douglas, who played in a winner-take-all, weather-delayed showdown with Rock Island in the regular-season finale in 2000 when he scored a career-high 30 points in a Quincy victory.
Before embarking on such a stretch, the Blue Devils couldn’t overlook the Pioneers.
Quincy scored 19 of the game’s first 21 points, didn’t allow Alleman to score a field goal until more than 5 ½ minutes had elapsed and put the game away with a 27-point third quarter.
Better yet, it enabled the Blue Devils to throw a few wrinkles into their defensive approach that could come in handy in the postseason.
“We haven’t run our full-court, run-and-jump defense a ton this year,” Douglas said. “So it was one of those things we wanted to work on. We’ve practiced it often, but we haven’t had the chance to run it in games. You never know when you’re going to need something like that down the road.
“So this gave us the opportunity to come out and work on rotations, whether it was in the full-court or half-court. We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect, but I thought our guys handled it pretty well. They did a much better job in the second half.”
Junior guard Bradley Longcor III led the Blue Devils with 25 points, scoring 14 in the third quarter when the lead ballooned from 21 points to 41 points and invoked the running clock. Ralph Wires and Dom Clay scored 13 points apiece.
Pioneers freshman Jack Wendt, who came off the bench to make Alleman’s first field goal with a 3-pointer at the 2:22 mark of the first quarter, finished with five 3-pointers and 15 points.
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