One off the checklist: Blue Devils lead wire to wire in victory over cross-town rival Raiders


Quincy High School's Leah Chevalier reaches back to grab a rebound during Tuesday night's girls basketball game against Quincy Notre Dame at the Pit. | David Adam

QUINCY — How well is the Quincy High School girls basketball team playing at the moment?

“I think we’re probably playing the best ball we have all season right now,” senior center Taylor Fohey said following Tuesday night’s 47-24 victory over rival Quincy Notre Dame at The Pit.

It would be difficult to dispute Fohey’s claim.

QHS (21-5) dispatched Notre Dame (22-4) with relative ease in a battle of state-ranked teams. The Blue Devils, No. 8 in Class 4A, led wire-to-wire and held QND, No. 3 in Class 3A, to its lowest offensive output in 97 games, dating to late in the 2020-21 season when the Raiders dropped a 49-24 verdict to Chatham Glenwood.

“We knew this was going to be a big week for us with the QND game and the (two) conference games,” Fohey said. “The win over Notre Dame is one off that checklist.”

QHS is in the thick of the title hunt in the Western Big 6 with a 9-2 league record. The Blue Devils play at Rock Island Alleman (8-3, 24-3) on Thursday night before playing host to conference leader United Township (10-1, 20-5) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Blue Devil Gym. Alleman is No. 4 in Class 2A, and United Township is among those schools receiving votes in 4A.

“Our big girls did a decent job for us inside, and our defense played very well in holding Notre Dame to 10 points in the second half,” QHS coach Brad Dance said.

Dance may have understated the contributions of 5-foot-10 sophomore Jada Brown and the 6-foot Fohey when it came to controlling the paint. Brown posted game-highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds. She was backed by Fohey’s 13 points and six boards, giving the two a combined 31 points and 17 rebounds.

The Brown-Fohey combination did most of its offensive damage in the second half, combining for 18 points while helping shut off any hint of an inside attack from QND. 

“This was a sweet win since it was against Notre Dame,” said Brown, who leads QHS with her 16-point and 7-rebound averages. 

Quincy scored the first seven points of the game and never trailed. The Blue Devils led at the breaks 13-5, 27-14 and 30-19.

Brown said both she and her teammates still have plenty to prove.

“I know I can be better. We can all still be better,” she said.

Both Brown and Fohey talked of how important the Blue Devils’ defense was in holding down QND’s normally potent offense. That was music to Dance’s ears.

“We preach defense all the time,” he said. “These girls are diving on the floor for loose balls and doing all we ask of them.”

A third double-figure scorer for QHS was senior guard Leila Dade, who contributed all 11 of her points in the first half. Her total included three 3-point field goals. She was forced to exit the game early in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.

QND coach Eric Orne said the game got away from his team early. He felt he had made a mistake by trying to introduce new wrinkles to the QND offense to better attack the Blue Devils’ defense. The result was the early 7-0 deficit that QND never erased.

“We never had any rhythm or flow on offense, and I have to take the blame for that,” Orne said.

Orne was quick to praise the work of Brown and Fohey.

“I have a lot of respect for Jada and Taylor,” Orne said.

With his team forced to gamble more on defense as the second half progressed, Orne said that opened up even more of the floor for the Brown-Fohey tandem.

“They got even more open looks underneath as a result,” Orne said.

Sage Stratton’s 11 points paced QND scoring, with Tristan Pieper securing seven rebounds.

During the fourth quarter, a spectator, Mike Dade, was removed from the gymnasium after kicking Todd Reichert, one of the game officials. Dade was sitting on or near the first row of bleachers underneath the basket at the west end of the gym when the incident occurred.

The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association recognized QND before the game for becoming the eighth girls basketball program in state history to reach 1,000 victories, which it did on Nov. 25 with a 37-31 victory over Highland. The school’s first girls basketball coach, Jim Citro, was on hand to accept the plaque for QND.

QND has won six state championships.

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