‘Wow, what a night’: Seniors lead Blue Devils to victory in final regular-season home game
QUINCY — First came the rain, followed by the thunder and then a bellywasher of emotion.
“Crazy,” a smiling Sam Mulherin called it.
Perfect seemed to be an apt description, too.
“It couldn’t have been a better night,” said Bryson Bowen, one of three seniors on the Quincy High School boys basketball team who played their final regular-season home game Saturday night at Blue Devil Gym in a 59-40 victory over Jacksonville. “Honestly, it doesn’t even matter how much I played or how much I scored. A team win. I got to hear my name as a starter. Wow, what a night.
“Then going into the locker room, all the emotion hit there. I don’t shed tears. I sweat from my eyes, and I sweated a little.”
“You’re walking out in Blue Devil Gym on Senior Night,” senior guard Reid O’Brien said. “That’s cool.”
The Blue Devils, ranked 10th in Class 4A, took advantage of the emotion and energy they created, raining 3-pointers while building a 19-10 advantage. Quincy’s first three field goals were treys and five of the first six makes came from beyond the arc.
Then they dropped the thunder. Bradley Longcor III turned a steal into a breakaway dunk, and Camden Brown followed with a pair of dunks in transition, punctuating an 18-3 run over the first 6 minutes, 20 seconds of the second quarter.
It enabled the Blue Devils (23-4) to carry a double-digit lead throughout the remainder of the game and give the seniors the opportunity to play together in the fourth quarter one final time before QHS coach Andy Douglas pulled them in the final minute so they could exit to an ovation.
“A special night, the crowd was loud and people were getting into it,” said Mulherin, the senior forward who scored two points and grabbed four rebounds. “I’m glad everybody got on the floor and got to experience what it’s like.”
Bowen even got to experience what it’s like to be one with the floor.
Just before he was pulled from the game with 50.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Bowen stepped in front of Jacksonville’s LaMarion Williams and took a charge. He got up wincing a little, but any pain was worth the experience of being part of the victory.
“I put my all into our walkthroughs this morning because I wanted to be at my best tonight,” Bowen said. “The wave of emotions were just crazy. I’ve sat there and started and had the crowd cheer like that. Going back in the fourth quarter and then coming off with people chanting my name, that’s just unreal.”
It’s a dream come true in many regards. The moment lived up to the expectations, especially being part of the pregame introductions.
“It really did,” Bowen said. “I was shaky. I quickly had to turn the shakes off and get business down.”
The Blue Devils managed to do so efficiently. Brown led the Blue Devils with 16 points, while Longcor made four 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 14 points. Six different Blue Devils made 3-pointers, but the night belonged to the three seniors and their commitment to the program.
“It’s one of those bittersweet nights,” Douglas said. “You want to honor those guys that have put a lot of time into it and been committed to the process and made it to their senior year. On the side, it means the season is coming to an end. It was a great night for those guys.
“Sam did what Sam does. He dove on the ground. He extended possessions. He rebounded the heck out of the ball. Reid knocks down a three. And Bryson taking the charge at the very end was a great way to cap off a perfect night.”
Although they know more lies ahead — QHS wraps up the regular season Tuesday at Galesburg before playing host to a Class 4A regional — this became a night to remember.
“I love this program,” Mulherin said. “I really do. There’s nothing else in this country like it. The things the coaches have put inside me for my future — I’m sure others would say the same thing — is just special. It’s always going to be special.”
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