Hot Wires-d: Tenacious play of QHS guard sets tone for dynamic defensive effort
QUINCY — The pain was worth it.
“Of course,” Ralph Wires said.
With three minutes remaining in Saturday night’s marquee game of the Quincy Shootout, the Quincy High School senior guard was fouled, knocked to the floor and struggled to get to his feet because of the cramping in his left calf.
Eventually, Wires made it to the sideline and returned to the lineup a minute later.
Yet, the cramping wasn’t done.
“I cramped up celebrating in the locker room,” he said, “but that was OK.”
Beating a nationally respected program Saturday night helped him push the pain and fatigue aside.
Wires’ defensive effort in shutting down Imhotep Charter guard Ahmad Nowell was instrumental in the Blue Devils 74-62 victory at Blue Devil Gym. Nowell, who is ranked as the No. 30 prep prospect in the nation by 247Sports.com and is headed to UConn, went just 5 of 16 from the field as Wires hounded and harassed him endlessly.
“The game plan was to shut (Nowell) down,” Wires said. “It’s not just a one-man job stopping (Nowell). It was Camden (Brown) and it was Keshaun (Thomas) coming off ball screens and helping. It was everybody all together. It was a team effort.”
Still, it was Wires’ task to be a pest and be relentless in denying Nowell space.
“I take pride in my defense,” Wires said. “Everyone on our team takes pride in our defense. For me, though, that’s one of the biggest reasons I’m on the floor. I’m going to shut down their best player. I’m going to score here and there, but my job is to shut down their best player.”
Nowell finished with 19 points, but neither he nor the Panthers ever found any rhythm offensively. Imhotep, the school out of Philadelphia which has won nine Pennsylvania state titles in the last two decades and is ranked No. 1 in its class, shot just 38.5 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range.
“We had to blitz ball screens,” Wires said. “Coach (Andy) Douglas did a great job getting us ready to do that. We had a great gameplan, and without that we wouldn’t have been able to stop that team. They had some weapons.”
No weapon was more prominent than Nowell.
“He made a crazy tough shot on me, but I can’t hang my head over that,” Wires said. “I have to go battle again and make it tough on him.”
He battled every possession.
“We needed Ralph tio play like that every minute,” Quincy guard Bradley Longcor III said. “He was tenacious.”
His teammates feed off that.
“It tells us we have to be locked in too,” Thomas said. “We had to guard everybody on the floor.”
It starts with Wires locking in and locking down on whoever his assignment is, and that’s always someone significant.
“It makes me feel good, and the main reason for that is because my teammates and my coaches trust me,” Wires said.
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