Blue Devils bow out with another close loss

Photo credit to Matt Schuckman – Quincy Herald-Whig

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Feb. 28, 2019 12:30 am Updated: Feb. 28, 2019 2:21 am

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — The team that teetered on the edge of success all season found itself in a precarious position yet again Wednesday night. 

It couldn’t make the one play necessary to tilt the outcome in its favor. 

“That was us in a nutshell,” Quincy High School boys basketball coach Andy Douglas said after his team trimmed a nine-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to one but never took the lead in a 53-45 loss to Chatham Glenwood in the Class 4A Belleville West Regional semifinals. 

“We dug ourselves a hole, but fought like crazy to get it back. It came back to bite us in the end. That’s unfortunate because we’ve played so well and we’ve gotten over some of those things late in the season. This time, it came back to bite us.” 

It’s not the first time. Of the Blue Devils’ 12 losses, 11 were by eight points or less. 

“We stayed together no matter how down we got,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said. “Throughout the season, we were always there for each other. We always fought.” 

It’s how the Blue Devils (14-12) won seven of their final eight games of the regular season to ensure they’d finish with a winning record. 

It’s also why Wednesday’s effort was so frustrating. 

Quincy’s struggles rebounding — Glenwood grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and 13 overall — and getting crucial stops were inescapable. 

The Titans, who will face second-ranked Belleville West in Friday’s regional championship, fended off the Blue Devils with four second-chance points in succession in the fourth quarter and got six consecutive points from junior guard Luke Lehnen to turn a one-point lead into a seven-point bulge. 

“We made a couple runs and had chances to be in the game, but we gave it away in the second quarter and late in the fourth quarter,” Smith said. “That was the key to the game.” 

That came after Quincy rebounded from a crushing blow. 

Jirehl Brock turned a steal in the final seconds of the third quarter into a breakaway dunk to trim the deficit to 30-25, but he also was assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim with three seconds left in the quarter. 

Lehnen made 1 of 2 free throws, and Titans guard Jason Hansbrough hit an open 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer to make it a 34-25 advantage. 

“We struggled getting going offensively, and everything was difficult,” Douglas said. “(Glenwood) took care of the basketball against our pressure. It was off. Everything was a little off. Shots that normally drop didn’t drop. Steals or tips we normally get we didn’t come up with. That’s just how our night went.” 

After freshman Jeremiah Talton made two 3-pointers as part of an eight-point run to start the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils were on that edge of success again. 

Glenwood never folded. 

“We’ve been there this season, and we’ve weathered a few storms throughout the season,” Titans coach Todd Blakeman said. “You knew Quincy wasn’t going to die. I’m proud of the way our kids came back and handled themselves and stayed composed.” 

Class 4A Belleville West Regional 

Chatham Glenwood 53, Quincy 45

Rocks put Blue Devils away with clutch free throws

By MARC NESSELER
Special to the Whig
Posted: Feb. 8, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 8, 2019 11:30 pm

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – His shooting percentage suggests otherwise, but Rock Island senior Aaron Voss feels he’s in the same class of accurate free-throw shooters as Quincy High School sharpshooters Jaeden Smith (87.5 percent) and Lucas Reis (83.3 percent). 

“Every time I step to the line, I’m confident about the free throw going in,” Voss said, “whether it does or doesn’t. I don’t think about it. I just step up and shoot them.” 

Voss is just a 58-percent shooter from the stripe. However, in Friday’s 60-54 victory over Quincy in Western Big Six Conference play at Rock Island Fieldhouse, he was the most clutch one there. He finished with 17 points, hitting 5 of 7 free throws, all but one of those in the fourth quarter. 

“They had a couple of guys for them who stepped up and made shots,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “They have three key guys we were going to focus on, and they had other guys make shots for them. We’ve had the same thing for us. It’s one of those things.” 

The other to catch Douglas’ eye was Rocky’s last of five reserves. Jahmeir Robinson came on in the fourth quarter and hit a pair of 3-pointers to put the Rocks (15-9, 6-2 WB6) in a position to regain the lead after trailing 43-39 after three quarters. 

“Robinson was on our report,” Douglas noted, “but not one of the top guys.” 

Rock Island coach Thom Sigel, though, talked all about Voss in his postgame accolades. 

“It’s nice to see a guy, no matter what his role has been, where he takes the same approach. He’s there to compete, every night, whether it’s in practice or in a game,” Sigel said of Voss. “He set the tone.” 

Voss was rewarded with a career high in points, and was within four of his career-high in rebounds with eight. The free throws? They were right up there in his best of as well. 

“That was all on my teammates,” Voss said. “They found me. I was open, and they did the job of finding me.” 

Voss was extremely tough in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points and making his last four shots. 

Neither team had a lead of more than four in the first half. Quincy (10-11, 3-4 WB6) went up by five in the third, but Rock Island countered by going up 51-46 midway through the fourth. Rocky led 54-51 with 2:44 remaining, but the Rocks closed it out with free throws from Voss and JaMir Price (11 points). 

The Blue Devils, with a shorthanded bench because of injury and illness, played only six players, and had three of those play all 32 minutes. Brady Rupert came in for a couple of brief spurts to give Jeremiah Talton (12 points) and Reis a rest. Adonte Crider (17 points), Smith (12 points) and Jirehl Brock (seven rebounds) never got a breather. 

“I could tell we were fatigued late in the third quarter,” Douglas said. “It wasn’t where we normally see it, on the defensive end. We took some plays off offensively. 

“We played really well. We executed the game plan. We were good, we just weren’t good enough.” 

Rock Island outrebounded Quincy 32-17, while Solomon Gustafson also scored in double figures with 10 points, all in the first half. 

Rock Island 60, Quincy 54

Smith, Nicholson spark Blue Devils to weekend sweep

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Feb. 2, 2019 10:45 pm Updated: Feb. 2, 2019 11:55 pm

QUINCY — The atmosphere Saturday night felt as lackluster as the play.

Jaeden Smith did what was necessary to change that.

With the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s lead over Miller Career Academy bouncing between 11 and 15 points for most the third quarter, the Blue Devils couldn’t put a run together again to enliven the Blue Devil Gym faithful or gain the separation necessary to put everyone at ease.

“It felt like there wasn’t anything going on,” Smith said. “But we have to find a way to create our energy and just get it done.”

Smith decided to go on the attack.

He drew fouls on three separate drives to the basket, making all six free throws he earned, and the senior guard scored 13 straight points to push the Blue Devils advantage to 19 points with six minutes to play.

That was enough of a cushion to allow them to salt away a 71-51 victory and reach the .500 mark for the first time this season.

“I feel super comfortable taking it and dishing it off or getting fouled or finishing at the rim,” said Smith, who made nine of 10 free throws, scored a game-high 24 points and had four assists. “Whatever it takes when we need something good to happen. I felt like we responded and did that when we needed a push.”

It led to the Blue Devils’ first weekend sweep of the season, albeit in somewhat ugly fashion.

“We had two of them this weekend that were kind of ugly,” Smith said, referencing Friday night’s 60-48 victory over Rock Island Alleman. “We need to find a way to clean up our play better, but we found a way to clean it up in the end.”

Getting assistance from the bench helps.

Quincy (10-10) led by five points early in the second quarter when junior guard Payton Nicholson came off the bench and put together his best four-minute stretch of the season. His two steals, two assists, two rebounds and a field goal helped extend the lead to as many as 18 points before settling for a 13-point edge at halftime.

“I just come in and try to do my best defensively,” Nicholson said. “With Jirehl (Brock) normally at the point (on the 1-2-2 zone), I know when I come and in and take over at the point, I have to keep the energy up and cause some havoc.”

That effort came on the heels of a steal and three rebounds in a handful of minutes against Alleman.

“He’s gaining confidence and earning that playing time,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, who was pleased with the 11 points, 12 rebounds and three assists his bench provided. “He deserves to be out there. He’s practicing better and had better energy. We need it. We need a spark, and Payton’s providing it.”

He fits in well with an aggressive defense that forced 20 turnovers against Miller Academy, leading directly to 30 points.

“He’s super long and gets a ton deflections,” Smith said of Nicholson. “That lifts our energy a lot. I thought our bench came to play today.”

It makes Quincy the most complete it has been all season. The Blue Devils have won six straight games at home, three straight overall and have erased the 0-5 start to the season by getting back to level ground.

“We’re playing more as a team, and we’re getting more comfortable with each other and trusting each other,” Nicholson said. “Now we’re just going to keep getting better.”

Quincy 71, Miller Career Academy 51

Solid as a Brock: Steal, slam turns tide for Blue Devils

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 26, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 27, 2019 3:12 pm

QUINCY — Perry Cowan delivered what could have been a lethal blow to any hope the Quincy High School boys basketball team had of rewriting history.

Then Jirehl Brock authored another memorable moment.

The senior guard stole a pass at the top of the key and raced in for a breakaway dunk on the first possession of overtime, changing the tone of what turned out to be a 64-52 victory over DePaul College Prep in Saturday night’s marquee game of the Quincy Shootout at Blue Devil Gym.

Cowan forced the extra session moments earlier when he buried a 3-pointer from just to the right of the top of the key with 2.5 seconds left in regulation.

“Everybody was kind of down,” Brock said. “When you have a three-point lead with that little amount of time left, you think you’re going to win the game. Then they hit a three, and you go to overtime. You don’t know what can happen in overtime.

“You’re kind of down, but I think my team responded well.”

It started with a snatch and a slam.

“Usually the person to get the first punch in overtime takes it over,” said Brock, who finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. “That happened. We needed it. We needed it to win this game.”

The Blue Devils felt the surge one play created.

“It picks up everyone’s energy overall,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said. “I was hyped after that. Everyone else picked it up defensively, and I thought we did well staying in it.”

Smith needed that as much as anyone.

Quincy went ahead 48-46 with 42.9 seconds remaining in regulation as Smith hit a pair of free throws. Brock came up with a deflection and steal on DePaul College Prep’s ensuing possession, and Smith was fouled with 17.1 seconds remaining.

An 85 percent free-throw shooter who had made 39 of his last 41 attempts, Smith made the first free throw but missed the second. The Rams’ Pavle Pantovic grabbed the rebound and DePaul Prep called timeout with 10.7 seconds remaining.

It allowed them to set up the play for Cowan, the NCAA Division I recruit headed to Brown University who scored a game-high 22 points and tied the game on his only 3-point attempt.

“We set up two different plays in the huddle,” DePaul Prep coach Tom Kleinschmidt said. “We thought they might foul and not let us get a shot off, but they didn’t. They let us play, and we were able to get a good look for Perry.”

It was like a dagger.

“I was down on myself,” said Smith, who made 10 of 12 from the line and finished with 13 points. “If I would have made that free throw, the game would have been sealed.”

He did that in overtime, going 6 of 6 from the line.

“I definitely wasn’t going to miss in overtime,” Smith said. “I missed in regulation, so I had to fix it.”

The Blue Devils fixed a couple of other things with the victory.

First, they figured out how to win a close game. Of Quincy’s 10 losses this season, nine have been by six points or less, including Friday night’s four-point loss at Moline.

They avenged the only loss in program history to DePaul Prep. Known as Gordon Tech in 1990 when the teams met in the Class AA state semifinals, the Rams won by nine points as Kleinschmidt scored 38 points.

Adding intrigue to this rematch, event organizers invited Todd Wemhoener and Kevin Bybee, members of the 1990 Quincy team, to be honorary coaches. The Blue Devils also wore their alternate jerseys with the sleeves, just like the 1990 team wore.

“I think it just shows our guys that they can,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “They are more than capable of being able to compete against the top competition we’ve seen all season long. Hard work pays off. I don’t want to sound cliche, but it does.”

Quincy 64, DePaul College Prep 52