Thomas’ toughness on full display as Blue Devils ground Flyers in Shootout victory


Quincy High School junior forward Keshaun Thomas scores two of his game-high 28 points during Saturday's victory over East St. Louis in the Midwest Crossroads Shootout at Normal West High School in Normal, Ill. | Samantha Carmean photo

NORMAL, Ill. — Nothing is going to keep Keshaun Thomas down.

With 1 minute, 55 seconds remaining in the first half of Saturday’s game against East St. Louis in the Midwest Crossroads Shootout, the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s junior forward was knocked to the floor, forcing a pause in the action and the trainers to be summoned.

“He caught an elbow,” Blue Devils coach Andy Douglas said. “When he was laying there, it was more to get his bearings. Once he stood up and told me he was good, he looked good. The trainers checked him out and he was ready to come back.”

Thomas walked off under his own power and returned to the lineup at the start of the second half.

That was bad news for the Flyers.

Thomas spearheaded a tough, physical effort by the Blue Devils, posting a season-high 28 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in a 65-51 victory at Normal West High School.

“He was a monster today,” Douglas said. “He played like a man.”

That was against an East St. Louis frontcourt that had three players 6-foot-7 or taller.

“Keshaun was like, ‘I’m going at you. I don’t care if you block my shot or not, but I’m going through you,” Douglas said.

The 6-foot-5 forward had 19 points at the time of his fall, leaving with Quincy, ranked fourth in Class 4A, leading 31-27. The Flyers, ranked seventh in Class 3A, stayed close in the first half with its 3-point shooting, getting four treys from guard Arlandis Brown to trail 37-31 at the break.

In the second half, the Blue Devils (24-2) pulled away by attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line. Quincy went 21 of 26 at the charity stripe, while East St. Louis was just 5 of 12.

The first of five games in the shootout began with an auspicious beginning. The Blue Devils were hit with a technical foul before the opening tip for dunking during the pregame warmups, although the Flyers missed both free throws and failed to score on their opening possession.

“Every other shootout we’ve played in, dunking has been allowed, but for some reason, it wasn’t here,” Douglas said. “I told the guys after we received the technical, ‘Hey, we didn’t come here planning on winning by two anyway. Let’s go out here and do what we need to do.’ They responded.”

Quincy grabbed the lead with a Camden Brown 3-pointer just to the left of the top of the key, but he was called for a technical foul for taunting as he jawed with an East St. Louis defender going back down the floor.

There weren’t any other instances after that.

“Our guys did a nice job adjusting to the officials and played their game and ended up coming out with the win,” Douglas said.

Brown and Bradley Longcor III finished with 10 points apiece for the Blue Devils, while Taylor Powell led the Flyers with 17 points.

Samantha Carmean photos

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