Blue Devils bounce back from road loss, blanket Batavia defensively to stay unbeaten at home
QUINCY — The longest road trip in the Western Big Six Conference seemed to last forever Friday night after a surprising loss to Sterling.
“Man, that hurt,” Quincy High School junior Dom Clay said. “It was really quiet (on the bus).”
The Blue Devils lost for only the second time in 22 games on a late 3-point basket by Sterling’s Andre Klaver in a 65-62 setback, and they were anxious to return to the court Saturday night.
“The bounce back wasn’t really a concern with us as coaches,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “We were just eager to get the game started. I wish it had started at noon so we could hurry up and play because we knew that this group was going to be ready to go.”
Batavia was the unfortunate team to deal with the Devils’ wrath.
After allowing Sterling to score more points than any opponent this season, the Blue Devils forced the Bulldogs to miss 33 of 46 shots from the field in a 58-41 victory at Blue Devil Gym — where they are unbeaten in eight games.
The slap in the face from Friday seemed to wake up the Blue Devils (21-2).
“After (Friday’s loss), it was like, ‘We really lost to Sterling?’” Clay said. “Never again in my life. That’s the last time we’ll play them this year, and man, we just beat Sterling about a month ago (66-41 at home). We lost to them at their home, and they had their big guy (Lucas Austin) back. It just looked even worse, and I just didn’t like that.”
Batavia (15-7) played well early, combining 3-pointers from Josh Kahley and Jax Abalos with Nate Nazos’ ability to get to the rim to stay tied with Quincy at 19-19 midway through the second quarter.
The hosts, however, didn’t allow another point in the first half. Batavia missed its last seven shots, while Quincy closed with 10 straight points. Bradley Longcor and Clay both made 3-pointers and layups to make the score 29-19 at halftime.
“Defense is (Clay’s) ticket to playing time,” Douglas said. “We know what he can do on the offensive game. It’s just being consistent in your efforts defensively. That goes for all of our guys. There’s a lot of playing time out there, but you’re going to have to earn it. He did a heck of a job for us.”
“I take pride in my defense,” Clay said. “Coach gets on me every day about it. It’s time to step up and play defense.”
Batavia got as close as 36-29 after Ben Fiegel’s layup at the 3:29 mark in the third quarter. Again, Quincy clamped down defensively, and the Bulldogs missed their last eight shots of the quarter. An eight-point run, highlighted by Keshaun Thomas’ old-fashioned three-point play, put Quincy ahead 44-29 entering the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils then put the game out of reach with a 12-2 run to open the fourth quarter. Batavia missed seven of eight shots, while Longcor scored five points and had two assists during that stretch.
The defensive difference between Friday’s and Saturday’s games was easy to explain for Douglas.
“Here’s the thing: They’re high school kids,” he said with a smile. “I’ve heard (Kentucky coach John) Calipari say 1,000 times, ‘They’re college kids.’ They’re going to have moments. I thought last night was maybe two quarters that we kind of left out there. We didn’t come with that same intensity that we came with tonight.”
Longcor finished with 18 points to lead all scorers. Thomas added 15, and Clay chipped in with 11. Nazos led Batavia with 14 points. Quincy shot 56.4 percent from the floor (22 of 39) and only turned the ball over nine times.
“We shared the ball well,” Clay said. “We just hit the open guys. We were slow and patient. Our defense was really good tonight.
“This was just one of those moments where it’s like a turning point in our season and how we play. We learned from (Friday night), and we can’t have games like that anymore. We’re aiming higher now.”
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