QUINCY — The second-half rally and fight to the finish the Quincy High School girls basketball team engaged in Tuesday night had two components.
“We totally changed our mindset,” Blue Devils senior guard Leah Chevalier said. “And a few people hit shots.”
It was nearly enough to topple the reigning Western Big 6 Conference champion.
Trailing by 10 at halftime, the Blue Devils fell behind by as many as 14 points at two different points in the third quarter. But a stingy defensive effort and 14 second-half points from Asia Seangmany allowed Quincy to pull even with six minutes remaining in regulation and twice take the lead thereafter.
However, the Maple Leafs’ Annie Wirth made a pair of free throws with 1:12 remaining to seize the lead, and Seangmany missed a jumper from the top of the key at the buzzer as Geneseo survived with a 45-44 victory at the QHS gym.
“That last eight minutes or 16 minutes, if we play like that against any good team, we give ourselves a really good chance,” Chevalier said.
Once the Blue Devils fell behind, the fight became as important as the outcome.
“We battled and we showed resiliency,” QHS coach Brad Dance said. “We ended up making a good run and showed some fight.”
An experienced group wouldn’t allow it to tilt the opposite direction.
The Blue Devils got off to a solid start, limiting the Maple Leafs without a field goal for the first six minutes. Geneseo scored only six points in the first quarter and trailed by four.
However, Quincy all-conference junior forward Taylor Fohey played less than a minute of the second quarter due to foul trouble and went to the bench with 3:42 remaining in the half with her third foul. The Blue Devils railed 14-13 at the time.
The Maple Leafs responded by finishing the half on an 11-2 run.
“We had some people in unfamiliar spots and we had to make some adjustments,” Dance said.
Fohey’s return and the ability to make perimeter jumps changed everything. Fohey took an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Seangmany for 3-pointer that tied the game at 40 with six minutes to play.
The Blue Devils took the lead on Fohey’s putback of a Leila Dade miss, and after Geneseo tied it, Quincy regained the edge at 44-42 on a Seangmany 19-footer off a kickout from Chevalier.
Seangmany finished with 18 points, and Fohey had 11.
A free throw cut Geneseo’s deficit in half before Wirth gave the Maple Leafs the lead. Geneseo had the chance to extend the lead with 10 seconds remaining, but Danielle Beach missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Seangmany grabbed the rebound.
Quincy hurriedly got the ball into the frontcourt, and Dade dished to Seangmany, who split two defenders and launched a shot with both feet on the 3-point stripe. It caromed off the back iron, but the moxie the Blue Devils showed is important.
“It has to carry over because this weekend is going to be tough,” said Dance, whose team travels to Belleville Althoff on Friday and Belleville West on Saturday. “The conference is always going to be tough week in and week out.”
The Blue Devils are confident they can rise to the occasion.
“I think our defense is really good,” Chevalier said. “We just need to execute better on offense.”
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