Quincy Shootout: Blue Devils discover needed energy in fourth quarter, stay undefeated in WB6 by beating Panthers


Quincy High School's Terron Cartmill, left, pressures United Township's Mahki Johnson during Friday night's Western Big 6 Conference game at Blue Devil Gym. Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Bradley Longcor III nodded at the suggestion it had been a week filled with low-energy practices for the Quincy High School boys basketball team.

“It wasn’t the best,” the freshman guard admitted.

Junior guard Reid O’Brien was a little more blunt.

“We didn’t have any good practices all week long,” O’Brien said.

So a lackluster effort through three quarters of Friday night’s marquee game of the Quincy Shootout at Blue Devil Gym — Quincy led United Township 35-29 — came as no surprise to Quincy coach Andy Douglas.

“It was a microcosm of what practice was like Monday, Tuesday and Thursday,” Douglas said. “Wednesday, I thought we were OK. Those other three days were wasted days. Our energy wasn’t there. When you come out Friday and play the way you played, which was flat, you have to look back at what you did the week before.”

Luckily, the Blue Devils’ fourth quarter mirrored Wednesday’s practice.

Quincy scored on six of its first seven possessions of the final stanza, pushing the advantage to eight and finishing off a 55-45 victory to jumpstart the second half of the Western Big 6 Conference season.

The Blue Devils (17-3) remain alone in first place in the WB6 with an 8-0 record, although they had to scrap and claw to beat a team it trounced by 31 points in December.

“In between the third and the fourth quarter, Coach really got into us and focused on our energy,” O’Brien said. “We really underestimated U.T. That’s a team that improved a lot. Playing them for a second time this year is a lot tougher than the first.”

That’s a lesson they must take to heart.

“When you play a team early in the season and you win the way that you won, it’s easy to think it’s just going to be a walk in the park,” Douglas said. “The thing we’ve continued to stress is it’s a great thing we went undefeated through the first round of WB6 games, but there’s a reason so few teams have gone undefeated all the way through.

“Good coaches and good teams in this league are going to come prepared, and UT showed up prepared to beat us.”

The Panthers had the bounce you’d expect playing in front of a packed gym in an event featuring nationally ranked teams and prominent NCAA Division I recruiting targets.

The Blue Devils lacked it. The reason is a mystery.

“I don’t know,” Douglas said. “I just don’t.”

The Blue Devils admitted they were lethargic.

“But it shouldn’t be that way,” Longcor said.

An early 3-point barrage — Terron Cartmill, O’Brien and Jeremiah Talton each hit one — led to a 9-2 lead out of the gate. The lead grew to 20-10 after back-to-back baskets by Longcor that forced UT coach Ryan Webber to take a timeout with 5:33 remaining in the first half.

The Panthers responded out of the timeout with an alley-oop dunk by Darius Rogers that kickstarted a 10-2 run to close the half and draw them within 22-20.

It remained nip-and-tuck the first seven minutes of the second half before Talton, who finished with 10 points, cashed in on a pair of free throws and Longcor, who led the Blue Devils with 15 points, followed with a 3-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer sounded to make it a six-point game.

That’s when the Blue Devils finally turned it on.

“It’s one of those things you hope is coming,” Douglas said. “Luckily for us, it came at a good time.”

If the Blue Devils wait that long to turn it on Saturday night, they know they’ll be in trouble.

Quincy is facing St. Louis University High (12-3) and SLU signee Nick Kramer, who scored 32 points Friday night against Philadelphia Mathematics, Civics and Sciences in a 73-52 victory in a Shootout game at Quincy Notre Dame’s the Pit.

“We had a long postgame talk about it, so I think all the guys know we have to be ready,” O’Brien said. “We have to be ready to be physical. We have to be able to bring it.”

Longcor is confident it will happen.

“Coach knows we can bounce back, turn heads and bring our best tomorrow,” he said.

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