Taking away Lions’ ability to score in paint allows Blue Devils to pull away for Highland Shootout victory

Quincy players Keshaun Thomas (left) and Camden Brown defend against Cardinal Ritter guard Quenton Parker. Quincy defeated Cardinal Ritter 62-49 at the Highland Optimist Scott Credit Union Basketball Shootout at Highland High School on Saturday January 6, 2024. 
Photo by Tim Vizer for Muddy River Sports

Quincy High School’s Keshaun Thomas, left, and Camden Brown defend against Cardinal Ritter guard Quenton Parker during Saturday’s game in the Highland Optimist Scott Credit Union Basketball Shootout in Highland, Ill. | Photo courtesy Tim Vizer Photography

HIGHLAND, Ill. — The second-quarter surge St. Louis Cardinal Ritter enjoyed during Saturday’s Highland Shootout matchup with the Quincy High School boys basketball team made one thing obvious.

“When they get to the paint, they’re going to finish,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said.

That left the Blue Devils with one task in the second half — take away the penetration.

Tied at 35 going to the fourth quarter, Quincy clamped down defensively and held Cardinal Ritter to 3-of-15 shooting over the final eight minutes to put a stamp on a 62-49 victory in the 32nd year of the prep basketball showcase.

“The pressure they put on you offensively comes from their ability to drive,” Douglas said. “So we made an adjustment to switch everything out top. They ran a lot of action — handoffs, exchanges and ball screens. So we switched everything. Our guys did a really good job of communicating through it and keeping guys in front of them.”

The Blue Devils (16-1) also did a solid job of finishing themselves.

Quincy, ranked seventh in the Class 4A state poll, shot 68.6 percent from the field in the second half, going 4 of 8 from 3-point range. The Blue Devils also went 11 of 11 from the free-throw line in the second half.

“I thought we got off to a really good start,” Douglas said. “We knocked down some shots, shared the ball, played defense. We were clicking at the get-go. We carried that over to the second half when things kept clicking.”

Quincy junior point guard Bradley Longcor III, who was named the game MVP, scored 17 points and dished out eight assists as the Blue Devils finished with 14 assists against 10 turnovers. Junior forward Keshaun Thomas finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

“Brad was fantastic,” Douglas said, “and Keshaun played spirited like he always does. We clicked and had some big-game performances.”

The Blue Devils return home Tuesday to square off with Moline in a Western Big 6 Conference showdown with first place in the league at stake.

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