Blue Devils to use time prior to holiday tournament wisely, emphasize consistency and energy

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Quincy High School sophomore guard Bradley Longcor III starts the offense during Saturday night's game against Quincy Notre Dame at Blue Devil Gym. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — It sounds relaxing when you say it out loud.

The Quincy High School boys basketball team has 11 days until its next game.

That offers the impression it will be a low-key holiday week leading up to Christmas and then a couple of get-back-into-the-groove days before the Blue Devils head off to play in the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.

To hear Blue Devils coach Andy Douglas describe what the next week and change hold, down time won’t be part of the team’s plan. 

“There’s no time off,” said Douglas, whose team is ranked ninth in Class 4A. “We have to prepare for a shot clock. We have to keep guys in it mentally and physically as well. Conditioning is going to hike up a little bit. It gives us the opportunity to go back to the drawing board a little bit. Hopefully we’ll see some good things from it.”

The main thing will be consistent effort.

The Blue Devils were able to ramp up their energy in the second half of Saturday night’s 60-43 victory over Quincy Notre Dame in the crosstown showdown at Blue Devil Gym, but the first half was lackluster and sluggish despite what the final outcome suggests.

“We were playing like little kids out there,” sophomore forward Keshaun Thomas said. “We needed to be stronger and more aggressive. That’s what we did. We got more rebounds and didn’t let them penetrate. We played great defense.”

QHS held QND to three points in the third quarter, forcing the Raiders to go 1 of 8 from the field with four turnovers as a six-point halftime lead ballooned to a 16-point edge.

“We have to play like we did in the second half,” sophomore point guard Bradley Longcor III said. “High energy and aggressiveness.”

In turn, it generated a more efficient offense. A 12-1 run to close the first half, sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Dominique Clay and Longcor, changed the game, and the Blue Devils had assists on all four field goals in that stretch.

“We kept the ball moving,” Douglas said. “When the ball moves with this group, with the amount of weapons that we have, only good things are going to take place. It provided us with a little bit of a spark going into halftime.”

Defense did the rest.

“With our athleticism, our length and our guys’ ability to anticipate, we thought we’d be able to cause some havoc,” Douglas said.

That will need to be the case when the Blue Devils (9-1) open holiday tournament play at 9 p.m. December 28 against Alton at Collinsville’s Vergil Fletcher Gym. The tournament will use a 35-second shot clock for all games, a prelude to what is expected to happen in the coming year or two for all Illinois High School Association sanctioned games.

It will take an adjustment, although the emphasis for the Blue Devils won’t change.

Defense needs to dictate everything.

“We can’t let our offense define our energy on the defensive side,” junior swingman Camden Brown said. “We have to bring our energy every possession.”

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