‘Phenomenal’ second-quarter blitz helps QHS rout Belleville West to reach sectional championship game


Bradley Longcor, left, receives an ovation from the Quincy High School fans while being congratulated by his teammates after being taken out of Tuesday night's Class 4A sectional semifinal game in the Panther Dome at O'Fallon Township High School. | David Adam photo

O’FALLON, Ill. — Bradley Longcor III believes he and his Quincy High School boys basketball teammates have more quarters in them like the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game.

After Belleville West’s Jordan Lacey hit a 10-foot jump shot to tie the score at 16 on the first possession of the second quarter, the Blue Devils were superior. They made 10 of 14 shots in the eight-minute frame, including going 5 of 7 from the 3-point arc, while forcing the Maroons to miss 9 of 11 shots.

It added up to a 29-6 run that put the game decisively out of reach as the Blue Devils cruised to a 74-46 victory in the Class 4A sectional semifinal in the Panther Dome at O’Fallon Township High School.

The Blue Devils improved to 31-3 and advanced to Friday’s sectional final in Pekin, where they will meet Normal Community. The Ironmen (29-5), who have three players 6-foot-9 or taller and seven listed taller than 6-foot-4, eliminated Moline 61-44 in the other semifinal.

The Blue Devils led 16-14 after one quarter when Keshaun Thomas tipped in a missed layup by Longcor to beat the buzzer. After Lacey made his jumper, the rest of the second quarter belonged to Quincy.

“We know we can do it again and again,” Longcor said. “Right now, it’s just trying to build as many quarters like that as we can for the future and continue to win games.”

Longcor fueled the surge, making all five of his shots and scoring 13 points in the frame. He hit a free-throw line jumper and a 3-pointer while dishing an assist for a basket by Dom Clay in a 12-point run.

A jump shot by Myles Liddell stemmed the tide — but only briefly. Longcor scored seven straight points, followed by an offensive rebound basket by diminutive junior guard Kamren Wites, to put Quincy ahead 37-20. Lacey hit a pair of free throws, but Wires responded by converting  a driving layup into an old-fashioned three-point play.

A steal by Clay at midcourt led to two free throws with four seconds left in the half. After an over-and-back violation by the Maroons, Longcor hit a running 3-point shot to beat the clock and close the outburst, giving Quincy a 45-22 halftime lead.

“The biggest thing we talked about at halftime was the reason we were here in the first place is the defensive pride we’ve been playing with for the last month,” Maroons coach Alex Schobert said. “When you look back at our scores, all the teams are (scoring) in the 40s. You don’t necessarily expect to do that with such a good team as Quincy is, but we gave them 45 points in a half.

“When you play good teams, you’re going to get beat if you don’t get stops.”

Asked when the last time the Blue Devils played that well for a quarter, Longcor said, “I don’t remember. I also don’t keep the stats, so I really don’t know. I just go out and play.”

After watching Longcor fail to reach double figures in either regional game last week, QHS coach Andy Douglas was pleased to see him take command Tuesday. The junior guard finished with 28 points.

“I thought he put a little too much pressure on himself in the first couple (postseason) games, but he came out ready to play tonight,” Douglas said. “Defensively he was phenomenal.”

Douglas thought the offensively prolific quarter was triggered by his team’s defense.

“Now that was a phenomenal quarter by our guys,” he said. “We always say it starts with defense, and that was a massive, massive piece of it. I also thought we rebounded the ball really well. When you’re playing a team like (Belleville West) that gets after the offensive glass like they do, if we can get the ball and then find guys in transition, we’ll have some opportunities.”

A 23-point halftime lead typically would be considered insurmountable, but Belleville West had won 15 of its last 17 games. The Maroons picked up two buzzer-beating victories last week over Belleville East and Collinsville in the Granite City Regional.

“They weren’t going to just lay down in the second half,” Douglas said of the Maroons.

Blue Devils fans gulped a little when QHS had four turnovers and 2-for-8 shooting in the first five minutes of the second half. A steal by Liddell led to a three-point play that got the Maroons within 49-34 with 2:49 left in the third quarter.

Thomas righted the ship, scoring three times in the post to help the Blue Devils lead 55-36 entering the fourth quarter.

Quincy scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to erase any doubts as to who would be playing Friday in Pekin.

Liddell paced Belleville West with 16 points. Clay had 11 points, and Thomas and Ralph Wires had 10 each for the Blue Devils.

Another quarter on Friday like Tuesday’s second quarter would go a long way to helping the Blue Devils knock off the Ironmen.

“They’re a really good team, but so are we,” Douglas said. “We’ve got a lot of competitors in this group. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

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