Defensive dominance in first quarter allows Blue Devils to keep pace with Rock Island in WB6


Quincy High School's Tyler Sprick defends United Township's Caeden Terrell during the first half of Friday night's boys basketball game at Blue Devil Gym in Quincy. | David Adam

QUINCY — The Quincy High School boys basketball team forced United Township to burn nearly a minute off the clock on its opening possession Friday night before finally yielding a pull-up jumper from the left baseline by Dominic Rhoden.

It was a harbinger of things to come.

Quincy’s suffocating defense forced six turnovers and seven missed shots after that lone basket in the first quarter to race to an 18-2 lead and cruise to a 65-32 Western Big 6 Conference victory over UT on Senior Night in Blue Devil Gym.

Feeding off the defense, the Blue Devils made 6 of 8 field goal tries in the opening period. Guard Bradley Longcor III sank back-to-back 3-pointers midway through to produce a double-digit lead and then fed Dom Clay for a layup off a turnover to close it out.

“Our defense was so good that we didn’t give them many opportunities to shoot,” said Longcor, who scored a game-high 17 points.

Meanwhile, Quincy shot 56 percent from the field and made eight 3-pointers to run its record to 23-2 overall and remain in a first-place tie with Rock Island in the WB6 at 9-1. The Rocks rolled past Geneseo 85-37 Friday night.

“Once we get steals, once we get out and run, that’s a lot of our offense,” senior Tyler Sprick said. “It starts with our defense.”

The Panthers, coming off a nine-point victory over Sterling, which had handed the Blue Devils their only league loss a week earlier, never solved it.

They made just 5 of 15 field goal tries in the first half and needed 15 minutes, 20 seconds to reach double figures in the scoring column. They shot 33 percent from the field for the game, including a 2 for 20 showing from 3-point range. They also turned the ball over 15 times.

“We knew we had a height advantage, a length advantage, and I thought we used it to our advantage,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “We weren’t out trying to block shots. We wanted to keep guys in front of us and contest shots. And they did that well.”

Junior guard Kamren Wires came off the bench in the second quarter to provide an offensive spark. He tipped in a missed shot, drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing and hit a pull-up jumper from the circle to make it 27-7 with just under four minutes remaining in the first half.

Wires finished with 10 points.

“He’s big for us,” Douglas said. “He’s lightning quick on the break and can cause a lot of different problems for a defense. He’s a kid who really worked on his shot over the summer. I don’t know if we would have called him a shooter last year, but this year he’s a guy who can knock it down.”

The Blue Devils led by as many as 22 points in the first half and were ahead 40-23 with 86 seconds left in the third quarter when Longcor drove the lane for a bucket, was fouled and completed the three-point play.

After Mark Louthan sank the second of two free throws, Camden Brown threw down a dunk off a turnover and Longcor drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner with 2 seconds to go to make it 49-23 heading into the final period.

UT took advantage of three Quincy turnovers to score the opening nine points of the fourth quarter but got nothing else. Keshaun Thomas answered with a conventional three-point play and senior Isiah Talton sank a 3-pointer from the right corner and then converted a layup in transition as the Blue Devils scored the game’s final 16 points.

Brown scored 11 points for Quincy as all 15 players saw action. Synceare Simons led UT, which falls to 14-8 overall and 6-4 in the WB6, with 8 points. Simons sat out the final quarter and a half after getting into a scuffle with Clay that resulted in technical fouls on both players.

The Blue Devils, ranked fourth in Illinois Class 4A and coming off Tuesday night’s impressive victory over Moline, play East St. Louis Saturday afternoon in the Midwest Crossroads Shootout at Normal West High School.

“It’s Senior Night and you want your guys to go out on a high note, but you also want to take the next step as a team, and I thought we did that,” Douglas said.

“We’re working to take steps forward, not back. We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty, and you want to be playing your best basketball.”

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