Defensive-minded Devils shut down Golden Warriors, increase lead in WB6 title chase


Quincy High School sophomore point guard Ralph Wires scored five points Friday night against Sterling and was dynamic defensively in the 60-32 victory. File Photo

STERLING, Ill. — The Quincy High School boys basketball team’s effort last weekend against United Township resulted in a victory, but it was anything but perfect.

Blue Devils coach Andy Douglas might describe it as imperfect.

“There wasn’t a defensive possession in the first quarter where we didn’t make a mistake,” Douglas said.

So he designed the first 45 minutes of Wednesday’s practice to be a film study of every possession against the Panthers, discussing every detail of the defensive effort so the Blue Devils had a clear view of what they were missing.

“I think we actually ended up going more than an hour,” Douglas said.

The added time led to a much improved defensive effort Friday night and a rather easy 60-32 victory over Sterling in Western Big 6 Conference play at Homer B. Musgrove Fieldhouse. The Blue Devils held the Golden Warriors scoreless for a 7-minute, 15-second stretch in the first half and forced them to go 4 of 18 from the field over the first 16 minutes.

“We had to be better defensively,” Douglas said. “Defense was a huge focus for us like always, but we needed to raise our level of intensity and focus. We need all five guys to guard. Tonight, that was the majority of the game. They played their butts off.”

The victory keeps Quincy (19-4, 10-0 WB6) alone in first place in the league standings, and with Moline beating Rock Island 68-63, the Blue Devils have a two-game lead on the rest of the field with four WB6 games remaining.

Quincy travels to Moline, which has won 13 straight games, next Friday night.

“Moline means business,” QHS sophomore guard Ralph Wires said. “If we beat them, that basically means we win conference. So that’s very important to us.”

It showed in the 20-0 run the Blue Devils put together Friday night.

Three consecutive 3-pointers to open the game fueled a 12-2 run, but the Golden Warriors responded by scoring the final seven points of the first quarter and getting a 15-foot jumper from J.P. Schilling with one second remaining to pull within 12-9.

Sterling made just one basket — a 3-pointer from the right win by Austin 45 seconds before halftime — in the second quarter and trailed 32-12 at halftime. Quincy scored the first 20 points of the second quarter and went 7 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half.

The Blue Devils scored 11 points off eight Golden Warrior turnovers in the first half, while Sterling didn’t score off any of Quincy’s six turnovers.

“During their run in the first quarter, we had four or five possessions in a row where we didn’t get a good look,” Douglas said. “They were sloppy possessions, and we had to clean that up. Offense was the focus for us going into the second quarter. I thought our guys did a really good job of attacking the middle and finding the open guy, no matter who it was.”

Jeremiah Talton made five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 20 points, while Bradley Longcor III added 16 points and seven other Blue Devils scored.

Schilling, who came in averaging 17 points per game in WB6 play, was limited to a season-low four points by QHS’s defense.

Duplicating such an effort next Friday against Moline’s Brock Harding, who averages 18.1 points per game, will be a challenge, but the Blue Devils should be rested and ready with no Saturday night game this week and no Tuesday game next week.

“We want to give them as much rest as possible before we attack the final leg of our season,” Douglas said.

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