Blue Devils finish first half of WB6 slate in thick of title chase with chance to repeat as champs

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Quincy High School's Dominique Clay, center, knocks the ball away from Galesburg's Gino Williams during the first half of Friday night's Western Big 6 Conference game at Blue Devil Gym. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Outside of the obvious scenario — that would be to beat Moline — the Quincy High School boys basketball players know what needs to happen over the second half of the Western Big 6 Conference season for them to repeat as league champions.

The Blue Devils must replicate Friday night’s performance.

They imposed their will with defense, moved the ball efficiently on offense and kept everyone involved in a 76-31 dismantling of Galesburg at Blue Devil Gym.

“We came out with the right energy,” Quincy sophomore guard Bradley Longcor III said. “We came out ready to play. We continued that throughout the game. I thought it allowed us to have a complete performance.”

Seven more of those and another title gets painted on the Blue Devil Gym wall.

“No. 1, we have to take care of business at home,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, whose team is 6-1 in the WB6 and a game behind league-leading Moline with three of the next seven league games at home. “The other thing is we have to continue to grow every time we step on the floor, whether it’s practice or games.

“We have to remember what happened tonight wasn’t a fluke. It happened for a reason. It was because of the focus we had.”

It enabled the Blue Devils, ranked 10th in Class 4A with a 16-2 overall record, to set the tone defensively.

Quincy went on a 14-3 run over the final 2:55 of the first quarter and doubled up Galesburg by halftime, leading 42-21. The Silver Streaks went 8 of 21 from the field in the first half and committed nine turnovers with the Blue Devils deflecting another half-dozen passes.

“We were in attack mode on the defensive side of things,” Douglas said. “We were able to turn up the pressure, and we were able to attack because of that. In previous, the guys on the back line of the zone allowed teams to go up the sideline and break us down that way.

“Tonight, we got deflections and took that away. The defensive intensity was where we needed it to be.”

That’s been the focus the past two weeks.

“It’s our energy,” junior guard Tyler Sprick said. “One of the things coming back from (the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic) was we knew we needed to pick up our energy. Our offense comes from our defense, so when we start out playing great defense, the offense follows. The more we do that, the better we are.”

The offense had no trouble duplicating the defense’s intensity.

Quincy made eight 3-pointers in the first half, shot 56 percent from the field and created the right tempo to be able to score in transition and attack off the dribble. All told, the Blue Devils shot 54 percent from the field overall.

“You see how much we shared the ball,” Sprick said. “We made the extra pass. We made the extra plays. Those are the things that are going to get us to the next level. That’s what makes us so dangerous.”

It’s how the first half ended. Longcor penetrated off the dribble and kicked the ball to Sprick in the left corner. Instead of shooting a 3-pointer, he moved the ball to Brown toward the top of the key for a wide-open three just before the buzzer sounded.

“We have to fine tune some things that we need to fine tune,” Brown said. 

“Always keep our foot on the gas pedal, especially where we’re at in the season,” Brown said. “We always want to find the hot hand and play as a team.”

That’s how four players ended up in double figures — Brown scored a game-high 18 points with Longcor adding 14 and Ralph Wires and Dominique Clay each chipping in 10 — and 13 different players wound up in the scoring column.

“It seemed like most possessions the extra pass was made,” Douglas said. “That extra pass says a lot about a team.”

In this case, it shows how the Blue Devils kept themselves in the thick of the WB6 title chase.

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