WB6 title hopes at stake when Blue Devils, Maroons square off at Blue Devil Gym

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Quincy High School's Tyler Sprick, left, pressure Moline's Brock Harding during their Western Big 6 Conference matchup at Wharton Field House in Moline, Ill., on December 16. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Sitting in the bleachers of what at that moment was a relatively empty Blue Devil Gym, Camden Brown gazed around as he envisioned what Friday night’s crowd might be like.

“Hopefully it’s sold out,” he said.

It should be.

The Quincy High School boys basketball team puts its Western Big 6 Conference title hopes on the line when the league’s top-ranked team comes to Blue Devil Gym. Moline, which is No. 2 in the latest Class 4A state poll, leads the WB6 with a 10-0 record and could give itself a two-game lead over Quincy with only three league games to play.

However, the Blue Devils, ranked eighth in Class 4A, could forge a tie atop the WB6 standings in hopes of defending their league championship.

It’s a matchup begging for a full house at 7 p.m. Friday.

“It will bring our energy level up extremely high to see it packed in here,” said Brown, the Blue Devils’ 6-foot-5 junior swingman. “We’ll be ready to play. We’ll be ready to play no matter how many people are in here, but a big crowd would be fantastic.”

The Blue Devils (21-3, 9-1 WB6) suffered a 56-44 loss to the Maroons (22-3, 10-0 WB6) at Wharton Field House on December 16, a game in which Moline senior point guard Brock Harding changed the tide with a basket, a steal and an assist in the final four seconds of the third quarter.

It doubled the Maroons’ lead from four to eight points and gave them the burst needed to finish off their closest WB6 game to date.

Harding, who has signed with the University of Iowa, had 19 points in that game, 17 coming in the second half.

So how do the Blue Devils slow him this time?

“Don’t let Brock get out in transition,” Brown said.

That begins by controlling tempo. As much as the Blue Devils want to run and score in transition, they cannot the Maroons to do the same. Moline is averaging 73.6 points per game overall and has scored 80 or more points nine times.

“We have to be in control when we have the ball and sprint back on defense,” Brown said.

Moreso, the Blue Devils have to be tough.

The Maroons have the ability to disrupt an opponent’s flow by being aggressive defensively, getting physical and engaging in some gamesmanship. The Blue Devils have fallen prey to that in the past and know they cannot let that happen again.

“Being tough mentally and physically inside and outside,” Brown said. “That’s what it takes.”

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