QUINCY — To the victor go the spoils.
What exactly the spoils are Quincy High School boys basketball coach Andy Douglas isn’t divulging.
Thursday night, in the opening game of the QHS Thanksgiving Tournament, the Blue Devils will square off against Dixon at 7 p.m. at Blue Devil Gym. It also pits two close friends battling wits on opposite sidelines as the Dukes are coached by former QHS assistant coach Chris Harmann.
“Having him walking back into Blue Devil Gym after all the time and effort he put into this program, it’s going to be fun to watch the reception for him,” Douglas said.
Not only did Douglas and Harmann both play for the Blue Devils — Douglas is a 2000 QHS graduate and Harmann a 2003 grad — but they both returned to coach at their alma mater for an extended period and became extremely close.
So close, in fact, their families have vacationed together in the past.
With that in mind, could there be a friendly bet in the works?
Douglas laughed heartily at the question.
“I’m sure there could be,” he said. “I’m sure there already is.”
With Harmann bringing the Dukes to Quincy for the entire weekend, it adds to the celebration of the return of basketball season in a place where the game is adored.
This is the 51st installment of the QHS Thanksgiving Tournament — the 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and features Dixon, Miller Career Academy and Springfield Lanphier.
Dixon graduated five seniors, including the Sauk Valley Media Player of the Year in Jake Gaither, from a team that won 16 games overall and finished 6-2 in the Big Nothern Conference. Senior guard Wyatt Wetzell is one of the returnees the Dukes will rebuild around.
Miller Career Academy went 15-12 a year ago, going 1-2 at the Thanksgiving Tournament as the only returning team outside of Quincy. Senior guard Charles Nelson averaged 18 points per game for much of the season last year for the Phoenix.
Lanphier went 17-12 last season, losing to eventual Class 3A state champion Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the regional championship. The Lions graduated two of their top three scorers, but they return sophomore guard JaiQuan Holman, who averaged 10.9 points per game.
Douglas expects it to be a competitive field, and he’s anxious to see how the Blue Devils react to the lights and sounds of the curtain rising on the season.
“Really just getting started is important,” Douglas said. “That’s the big thing. When you go through your offseason stuff, when you go through your two weeks of practice, as a coach, you’re saying, ‘We need to practice more. We need to have more days.’ For players, they just want to get out and play.
“That’s going to be the No. 1 for us. Let’s see how they play.”
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