‘Everything was big in that fourth quarter’: Blue Devils rally to keep season alive with regional championship


Quincy High School senior point guard Ralph Wires, right, accepts the Class 4A Edwardsville Regional championship plaque following Friday night's 49-42 victory over O'Fallon at Edwardsville, Ill. | Photo courtesy Matt Kamp

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. —  A hand injury has limited Ralph Wires’ ability to shoot the ball, but that didn’t stop the Quincy High School point guard from producing two of the biggest baskets Friday night.

Wires made a pair of slashing drives to the lane on back-to-back possessions to ignite a game-closing 14-3 run for the second-seeded QHS boys basketball team on its way to a 49-42 victory over third-seeded O’Fallon in the Class 4A Edwardsville Regional championship game inside Lucco-Jackson Gymnasium.

“There was energy from the fans and energy from my teammates trusting me and believing in me,” Wires said. “I was able to get into the lane and make plays.”

It is the third straight regional championship and state-record 62nd in QHS history.

“This is big,” said Wires, a senior. “It’s one step closer to winning state. The biggest thing is that we were able to get back on O’Fallon. That was huge.”

It was O’Fallon which ended Quincy’s season a year ago with a 64-35 victory in the Moline Sectional semifinals at Alton High School. The Blue Devils finished 25-8.

Friday marked the third straight season with a postseason game between the two teams. Quincy topped O’Fallon to win the Alton Regional championship in 2022.

Quincy’s Camden Brown is guarded by O’Fallon’s Will Brown in the Class 4A Edwardsville Regional championship game Friday night in Edwardsville, Ill. | Photo courtesy Matt Kamp

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils (30-3) will meet eighth-seeded Belleville West (19-13) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Pekin Sectional semifinals at O’Fallon High School. 

Belleville West advanced with a 58-56 double-overtime victory over top-seeded Collinsville to win the Granite City Regional championship. The Maroons hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, a baseline jumper at the buzzer to force double overtime and a baseline jumper at the buzzer to win it.

O’Fallon (21-11) led by as many as six points three times in the third quarter, including as late as 2:57 to go after Rini Harris scored inside to make it 33-27.

Quincy rallied to tie it at 35 on a 3-pointer by Dom Clay to open the fourth quarter.

After the Panthers regained a 39-35 lead on a basket by Harris and two free throws from Will Brown, the Blue Devils went to work with Wires leading the way.

Wires worked to his left and drove baseline for a reverse layup to pull Quincy within 39-37 with 4:12 left. On the next possession, after an O’Fallon missed shot, Wires went coast to coast and finished with his left hand to tie it at 39 with 3:50 left.

“The guys did a really good job of attacking. Ralph was able to get to the rim and finish a couple,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “We needed to play aggressive. That’s what we wanted from the start of the game. It took us three-and-a-half quarters to do so. 

“Ralph is really good at finishing. He’s a strong kid.”

Quincy took its first lead since midway through the second quarter when Bradley Longcor III got into the lane and scored for the 41-39 advantage with 2:47 to go.

After Harris tied it at 41  for the Panthers, Longcor knocked down a jumper from just inside the arc for the 43-41 lead with 2:03 to go.

“If they are going to give me a wide open shot, I’m going to shoot it,” Longcor said.

The four points in 43 seconds from Longcor matched his production from the game’s first 29 minutes. He picked up two fouls in the first half and didn’t play much of the second quarter. The junior came through in the clutch, though.

“I want to be the leader for this team. It was great to see all of my teammates competing in the fourth quarter,” Longcor said.

Quincy never relinquished the lead as O’Fallon turned it over on its next possession and then missed two shots on its following possession before Clay scored for the 45-41 lead with 49 seconds left.

Keshaun Thomas sealed the win with four free throws in the final 23 seconds.

“Everything was big in that fourth quarter,” Longcor said.

The Blue Devils held the Panthers to 2-of-9 shooting in the fourth quarter. They also forced two turnovers. Through the first three quarters, O’Fallon was 15-of-29 shooting with only three turnovers.

“It all came down to how we guarded,” Douglas said. “O’Fallon is a tough team to guard. They have guys that can get to the basket. Harris is a stud. He’s a heck of a player and that’s a heck of a team.”

The O’Fallon offense ran through Harris in the first half. He scored 10 points before halftime and finished with a game-high 20 points.

With Harris doing the heavy lifting, the Panthers led 12-8 after his second 3-pointer of the game with 3:48 left in the first. O’Fallon hit five of its first eight shots with Harris accounting for 10 points.

A 3-pointer from Tyler Sprick and two free throws from Camden Brown allowed Quincy to take a 13-12 lead after the first quarter.

Thomas scored on the first possession of the second quarter to extend the lead to 15-12, but the Panthers used a 6-0 run to take an 18-15 lead. A 3-pointer at the buzzer extended the lead to 23-19 going into halftime.

“There were a lot of emotions at halftime. Some of us hung our heads, but we bounced back, composed ourselves and played together,” Wires said.

Jaeden Rush’s basket to start the second half put O’Fallon ahead 25-19 and the lead fluctuated between two and six points the rest of the quarter before Quincy made its go-ahead charge in the fourth quarter.

“For them to fight together the way they did to pull this one out was huge,” Douglas said. “They put themselves in position to win this one and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Thomas led Quincy with 15 points, while Longcor, Wires and Brown each had eight points. Clay had seven points.

The Blue Devils were 20 of 41 from the field. They hit their final six shots.

Rush joined Harris in double figures for O’Fallon with 12 points.

With O’Fallon now in the rearview mirror, Quincy will set its sights on Belleville West, a third consecutive Southwestern Conference postseason oppoenent.

“This is great, but we have much bigger goals,” Longcor said of the regional championship. “We want to win it all.”

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