Defense takes center stage for Blue Devils as curtain rises on home opener
QUINCY — The curtain splitting the Quincy High School gym into two distinct segments slowly started to rise when Wednesday night’s junior varsity girls basketball game ended.
Behind it sat the QHS pep band, ready to belt out the school fight song, among other tunes.
“I love our band,” QHS senior forward Taylor Fohey said. “They bring the energy.”
The band’s presence created some added fervor for the home opener for a team intent on doing more than hit the magical 20-win plateau. Buckling down defensively, like the Blue Devils did in the second quarter and thereafter against Pleasant Plains, should make that possible.
The 59-31 victory featured a 12-2 run to close the first half, a dominant defensive effort and steady performances from a pair of freshmen making their home debut.
Freshman guard Myley Longcor scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed six rebounds as a starter, while freshman forward Jada Brown had 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.
“It was a little nerve-racking at first,” Longcor said. “Once we started playing, it started coming together. … After I started hitting my threes, working the ball around and getting up and down the court, I started getting less and less anxious.”
The seniors did, too.
“We started to get more comfortable with each other and understand how we wanted to play that game,” said Fohey, who celebrated signing with NCAA Division II McKendree earlier in the day and backed it up with 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
“We started to make those back-door passes that need to be made. We started to put each other in position to score. As the game went on, we gained a lot of confidence in getting comfortable with each other. That was really beneficial for us.”
Pleasant Plains, a Class 2A program which won 23 games a year ago and is just four years removed from a state championship, took a 13-12 lead on Anna Weber’s shot from the top of the key with 6:16 remaining in the first half. Quincy answered on the ensuing possession as Fohey rebounded her own miss and made the putback.
The Blue Devils never trailed again.
“I feel like the crowd really got us going,” senior guard Leah Chevalier said. “The defense did, too. I feel like when I get tips, even if I’m not stealing the ball but someone else is off my tips, we get going. Someone will grab it and pass it up the floor and that works really well in getting us going.”
In this case, it got everyone involved.
Five different players scored in the second quarter as the Blue Devils built a 24-15 halftime advantage. In the third quarter, Longcor made a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 points to help Quincy extend the lead to double digits.
Pleasant Plains made just five second-half field goals.
“In the second half, one of the big differences was how Bri (Lannerd) was defending,” QHS coach Brad Dance said of his senior guard. “Every time the ball was passed to the wing, she was right there. The Pleasant Plains girls couldn’t turn. That made a huge difference.
“It’s fun to watch them get after it defensively.”
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