Thomas, Blue Devils snatch spot in regional championship with dominant effort on glass


Quincy High School forward Keshaun Thomas positions himself to grab a rebound off a missed free throw during the second half of Wednesday's Class 4A regional semifinal victory over Alton at Blue Devil Gym. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — If Keshaun Thomas needs a part-time job in the coming years, a perfect one exists.

Window cleaner.

The way he pulled rebounds off the glass Wednesday night during the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s regional semifinal, there’s no one better suited for the job.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward fought for two offensive rebounds on the Blue Devils’ first possession, then cleared Alton’s first three misses with defensive boards while establishing a physical tone that carried Quincy to a 71-42 victory in the Class 4A Quincy Regional at Blue Devil Gym.

“The more rebounds we get, the more offensive possessions we get and the fewer opportunities they get on offense,” Thomas said. “So I thought I needed to go out there and get more rebounds than anyone.”

And he did. Thomas hauled in nine rebounds in the first half, finished with 12 boards overall and scored a team-high 14 points to complete the double-double.

His ability to control the paint kept the Blue Devils in control throughout.

“When it comes down to it in the postseason, every possession matters,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “When you’re giving up two shots every time they get the ball, your chances of winning go down. So I thought they did a really good job of getting into bodies and going and getting it.

“We’ve had a lot of games where the rebound comes off and it just bounces out there. The guys went and got them tonight. They’re seeing those are opportunities to get out and run in transition, and we got good looks because of it.”

Thomas and the top-seeded Blue Devils (25-4) will find that to be more challenging come Friday night. Fourth-seeded Collinsville (21-11) dispatched fifth-seeded Edwardsville 71-56 in the other semifinal to earn a postseason rematch with Quincy.

The Blue Devils beat the Kahoks 34-32 in the sectional semifinals a year ago when Quincy guard Ralph Wires scored on a drive down the left side of the lane as time expired.

This Collinsville squad possesses more size and depth that could impact the outcome. Zach Chambers, a 6-foot-8 junior forward averaging 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, and Adam Rimar, a 6-foot-6 senior forward averaging 6.3 points and 5.8 rebounds, provide a formidable frontcourt.

They combined for 25 points and 19 rebounds against Edwardsville.

“Physicality is what the game comes down to when you’re playing against that type of size,” Douglas said. “You can’t give up easy opportunities. Especially when you’re playing against size like (Chambers), you worry about his looks at the rim. But also the best opportunity to get open 3-point shots is off an offensive rebound, so we have to be physical and aggressive.

“It will be a big-time point of emphasis for us.”

So will getting off to a good start.

Having not played in more than a week because of the regular-season schedule, the Blue Devils needed a few minutes to get their legs under them. They scored just two points in the game’s first three minutes and led only 8-4 midway through the first quarter.

Then came an 11-0 burst that gave Quincy a 19-4 edge at the end of the quarter. There was no looking back after that.

“The big thing for us was coming out and not being stagnant in what we did and avoid doing things that weren’t us,” Douglas said. “I thought our focus was there.”

Bradley Longcor III added 11 points for Quincy, while Ralph Wires and Sam Mulherin each had 10. Prince Clanton-El led Alton with 17 points, while Hassani Elliott added 12.

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