Blue Devils unable to muster fight needed to rally, bow out with sectional semifinal loss

Quincy guard Bradley Longcor III dribbles around OFallon guard JalenSmith. Quincy lost to OFallon in a semifinal game of the Moline Class 4A sectional which was played at Alton High School in Alton, IL on February 28, 2023. 
Photo Courtesy Tim Vizer Photography

Quincy High School guard Bradley Longcor III, left, dribbles around O’Fallon guard Jalen Smith during the Class 4A Moline Sectional semifinal played at Alton High School on Tuesday night in Alton, Ill. | Photo courtesy Tim Vizer Photography

ALTON, Ill. — Camden Brown quickly pinpointed the issue.

“We didn’t have any fight in us,” he said.

Forced into a corner, the Quincy High School boys basketball team could not withstand O’Fallon’s constant surges. The Blue Devils did not convert shots, did not rebound and did not consistently get defensive stops, resulting in a 64-35 loss in the Class 4A Moline Sectional semifinal at Alton High School.

It was the Blue Devils’ worst postseason loss since a 66-33 setback against Belleville West in the Class 4A Pekin Sectional semifinals in 2018, which coincidentally also was played at Alton High School.

“We got hit in the mouth,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “Instead of being tougher, moving forward and throwing and landing punches, we took more and more. We didn’t play with a level of toughness that you need to win games like this.”

O’Fallon (25-7) exploited that.

The Panthers shot 54.3 percent (25 of 46) from the field, buried five of their nine 3-point attempts and held a 37-18 advantage on the glass. O’Fallon, which held a 28-15 halftime lead, never trailed and held a double-digit advantage the last 19 minutes, 57 seconds of the contest.

Only four times in the last three quarters did O’Fallon go more than two consecutive possessions without points.

“This was an A-plus performance,” said O’Fallon junior guard Rini Harris, who scored 19 points and snagged 12 boards. “We knew what they were and went out and neutralized them.”

The Blue Devils’ 1-2-2 ball press, which can create match-up programs, was no match. O’Fallon spread the floor, was methodical and executed on the offensive end.

At no point did it rush shots or take bad ones.

“We wanted to keep moving,” said O’Fallon coach Brian Muniz, whose team faces Moline (31-3) in Friday’s sectional championship at Wharton Field House. “So many times when you’re playing a zone, you stand and end up chucking threes. We have too many guys who drive the ball well. 

“We thought if we could keep our guys moving and keep the ball moving … that would open things up.”

The Panthers had assists on 13 of 25 field goals, scored 19 second-chance boards and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.

“Our defensive energy wasn’t there,” said Brown, the QHS junior guard. “That’s never good when you don’t have energy.”

An inability to get stops was magnified because of Quincy’s offensive woes.

Quincy (26-5) scored a season-low 35 points, netting just 24 in the first three quarters. The Blue Devils went just 4 of 23 (17.4 percent) from beyond the arc and shot just 38.1 percent (8 of 21) inside the 3-point stripe. 

“All of our guys were contesting shots,” Muniz said. “They struggled to get easy shots off.”

This was the second time this season the Blue Devils failed to score 40 points. Junior forward Keshaun Thomas scored eight points and Brown added six.

“We got down and started forcing,” Douglas said. “We didn’t let our offense come to us. We didn’t get the movement. We always talk about purpose — setting screens and coming off those screens — and we lacked purpose.”

Douglas felt the Blue Devils’ were without toughness, too.

“We lacked that,” Douglas said, “in every aspect tonight.”

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