Blue Devils put depth, length on display to lead WB6 opener from start to finish

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EAST MOLINE, Ill. — Sent to the sideline with two fouls in the first quarter of Friday night’s Western Big 6 Conference boys basketball opener, Quincy High School sophomore guard Bradley Longcor III tried to talk his way back into the game.

“He kept saying, ‘I’m not gonna foul. I’m not gonna foul,’” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said.

The pleading didn’t work. After picking up his second foul with 1:17 remaining in the first quarter, Longcor spent the rest of the half on the bench and watched the Blue Devils, ranked eighth in Class 4A, build a 26-17 advantage over United Township at the Panther Den.

Longcor returned in the second half, scored 11 of his team-high 17 points and pushed the Blue Devils to 62-50 victory.

What transpired while he was sidelined was critical to not only this victory but any subsequent success the Blue Devils see. Dominique Clay scored eight of his 12 points in the first half as Quincy (4-0, 1-0 WB6) showcased its depth and ability to play with interchangeable parts.

Ralph Wires and Camden Brown also finished in double figures with 10 points apiece.

“What I told (Longcor) at halftime was part of us keeping him out was because he was in foul trouble,” Douglas said. “The bigger piece was I wanted to see how these guys would handle if he got in serious foul trouble. I thought they did a pretty good job.”

They ensured the Blue Devils led tip to buzzer.

Much of the reason for that was defense. United Township (4-1, 0-1 WB6) scored just two points in the first quarter and was held at bay despite heating up from the perimeter in the second half.

“People are going to get sick of me saying it, but the key for us is defense,” Douglas said. “We have guys that score the ball and we know what we’re capable of on both ends, but when we lack that energy and intensity defensively, it drops off dramatically.

“So it was good to see us come out with a sense of urgency on the defensive end. I thought we made it real difficult for them in the first half.”

The Panthers made it more interesting in the second half, knocking down a bevy of 3-pointers. United Township’s Omarion Roberts went 5 of 7 from 3-point range in the second half and finished with a game-high 23 points.

Yet, the Panthers never got closer than seven points.

“The key is trying to make it as uncomfortable as possible,” Douglas said. “I thought we did that quite a bit throughout the night. They knocked down some shots that were impressive and shots that were over an outstretched hand, which we will live with.

“We have a long team, and we are learning how to play to our strengths, which are our length and our quickness. If we can put that together defensively, we’re going to be tough to score on.”

The progress continues next week when the Blue Devils play three games — Tuesday against Rock Island Alleman, Friday against Sterling and Saturday against Batavia. All three are at Blue Devil Gym.

“Busy one,” Douglas said. “The good thing is we’re at home. Playing three games in a week is not an easy task. But at this point, these guys are ready to play more games. We’ll be ready to go.”

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