WB6 road victory helps Blue Devils end losing skid

Quincy High School’s Jirehl Brock finishes a dunk during the first half of Friday night’s game at Don Morris Gym in Rock Island, Ill. | Photo for the H-W/Gary Krambeck, Dispatch/Argus

By DRAKE LANSMAN
Special to The Herald-Whig

Posted: Dec. 8, 2018 12:50 am Updated: Dec. 8, 2018 2:13 am

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — A physical, intense Quincy High School boys basketball team hungry for its first victory of the season was just too much for Alleman to handle.

The Blue Devils scored the game’s first five points and never trailed, ending what had been the worst start in program history with a 71-41 Western Big Six Conference victory Friday night at venerable Don Morris Gym.

Quincy (1-5, 1-1 WB6) forced six turnovers by Alleman (3-4, 1-1 Big 6) in the first quarter, running out to a 16-8 lead. The Blue Devils parlayed 18 Pioneer turnovers into a fast-break offense and unselfish attack.

“We had a rough start in the beginning of our season, so we wanted to come out hard and try to get our first win tonight,” said Quincy junior Adonte Crider, who scored a game-high 17 points. “Our defense was turned up. We had a lot of energy beating them to spots and getting turnovers.”

Quincy senior Jaeden Smith (14 points) and 6-foot-4 freshman Jeremiah Talton (13 points) were productive throughout the game. QHS senior Jirehl Brock scored six of his eight points in the second quarter, maxing out his team’s momentum with a steal and a slam dunk followed by an alley-oop jam from Smith on the next possession.

Alleman seniors Sam Mattecheck (12 points) and Chase VanDerGinst (10 points) were the only Pioneers to score more than six points. Dayne Hodge hit Alleman’s only 3-pointer as the Pioneers attempted just six treys. Alleman was 39 percent (18-for-46) from the field in the loss.

“They definitely played solid,” Mattecheck said of Quincy. “They were strong on the perimeter and they were knocking down their shots. And that’s a tough combination to battle against, but we’ve got to come out strong every game.”

Quincy made eight of its 27 attempts from deep, with Talton hitting 3 of 6.

“I knew that they were going to be really hungry for this game and play one of their better games,” Alleman coach Kyle Murray said. “Once we got down, we pressed a little bit and it just kind of snowballed from there.”

Quincy had just seven turnovers. Lucas Reis and Brady Rupert each scored seven for Quincy.

“We set the tempo early with how we were playing defensively, and luckily for us we were able to get some turnovers and finish some layups in transition,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, whose team shot nearly 50 percent (29-of-59) from the field. “It’s a team that doesn’t care who gets credit; Jirehl probably could have had 8-10 more, but he found guys on the perimeter. Jaeden and Jirehl are big time leaders for us.”

Blue Devils start 0-3 for second time in program history

Quincy High’s Adonte Crider takes a shot with pressure from Waukegan’s Andre. White Jr. on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 24, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 24, 2018 11:25 pm

QUINCY — Andy Douglas believes the opportunities the Quincy High School boys basketball team squandered this weekend will be beneficial in the long run.

The Blue Devils are adamant it will be sooner than that.

Trailing Waukegan by a point with 7.9 seconds remaining in regulation Saturday night, Quincy had to go the length of the floor for a potential game-winning basket.

However, junior point guard Lucas Reis fumbled the ball in the backcourt and was forced to heave a shot from a step inside the midcourt stripe, banging it off the backboard and the front of the rim as the Blue Devils suffered a 62-61 loss in the 48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament at Blue Devil Gym.

“I know his head was down, but I told him, ‘You have to look at it like this: You’ve never been a point guard at the varsity level,'” Douglas said. “He’d never been in that situation before. Aaron Shoot had to learn. Lincoln Elbe had to learn. Mike Dade had to learn.

“I told him, ‘You’re going to have to learn, but keep your head up and compete.’ He needs to know the coaches and the players have faith in him.”

He has to believe his teammates when they say things will get better.

The Blue Devils are 0-3 for only the second time in program history. It’s the first time they’ve failed to win a game in the Thanksgiving Tournament. This also was one of the tougher tourney fields in recent memory with Waukegan, Providence St. Mel and St. Louis Christian each going 2-1.

St. Mel won the tournament championship based on free-throw percentage.

The improvements the Blue Devils made from one night to the next should have them ready to face Moline, another team with high aspirations and plenty of preseason acclaim, in next Friday’s Western Big Six Conference opener.

“(QHS athletic director Scott Douglas) was talking with our assistant coaches and was saying we’re more ready for Moline than we were last year or two years ago because of how strong the field for the tournament was,” senior guard Jirehl Brock said. “I believe that’s right.”

Maybe so, but the Blue Devils must be more consistent to topple a top team.

Quincy scored on six straight possessions in the first quarter — the highlight being an alley-oop dunk by Brock — to build an 18-6 lead. Despite a seven-point run by Waukegan, the lead was still 10 after the Blue Devils scored on the first two possessions of the second quarter.

That’s when the offensive malaise began. The Blue Devils went seven possessions without scoring and led only 30-27 at halftime.

The same thing happened in the third quarter. After scoring on the first two possessions, the Blue Devils had seven straight empty trips. The Bulldogs grabbed a 39-35 lead at that point, and the Blue Devils led for only 12 seconds thereafter.

“We have to be a little more comfortable in what we’re doing,” said Andy Douglas, who got 16 points from freshman Jeremiah Talton and 14 points from junior Adonte Crider. “Right now, our execution is not anywhere near where it needs to be. Part of that is knowing the plays and knowing the sets. We have to be better listeners and better learners.”

They have to better in tight situations, too.

After Jaylin Cunningham split a pair of free throws with 1:30 to play to give the Bulldogs a 61-59 lead, the Blue Devils got Jaeden Smith open for a 3-point attempt at the top of the key that caromed long. Crider grabbed the offensive rebound, but the Blue Devils turned the ball over before getting another shot.

Another free throw by Waukegan made it a three-point game before Reis drove to the basket for a layup with 16.2 seconds remaining. The Blue Devils couldn’t get a steal on the inbounds pass and fouled Andre White Jr., who missed two free throws with 10 seconds to play.

It gave the Blue Devils one final chance that slipped away.

“It’s going to take some time for us to find our way,” Brock said. “Once we get to our full potential, we’ll be really good.”

48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament

Waukegan 62, Quincy High School 61

Knights capitalize on Blue Devils’ lack of execution

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 24, 2018 12:01 am

QUINCY — All the momentum the Quincy High School boys basketball team built in trimming a seven-point deficit down to two was undone in the span on six possessions.

Coming out of a timeout called by QHS coach Andy Douglas with 3:25 remaining in regulation and the Blue Devils trailing 47-45, Providence St. Mel made three consecutive field goals, getting two layins off dribble penetration and a pull-up jumper just inside the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils misfired five times on their three subsequent possessions, squandering a pair of offensive rebounds that could have stemmed the tide.

That allowed the Knights to salt away a 58-52 victory Friday night at Blue Devil Gym and head into Saturday as the only undefeated team in the 48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament field.

“I liked the fact we were able to get the momentum back,” St. Mel coach Tim Ervin Sr. said. “It made a difference in being able to execute the game plan. The game plan was to attack, and we had opportunities to do that. We executed much better in that stretch there.”

The Knights’ defensive effort was equally important.

Between Jaeden Smith’s 3-pointer with 5:52 to play and Adonte Crider’s 3-pointer with 27.7 seconds to play, the Blue Devils went 1 of 10 from the field. Four of those misses came on shots within 5 feet of the basket.

“We have to take advantage of opportunities when they arise,” Douglas said. “We didn’t do that. It hurts when you have a wide-open opportunity and you miss it, and it leads right back to a wide-open layup for the other team.”

In this case, it led St. Mel to the brink of a championship.

The Knights (2-0) will face St. Louis Christian Academy (1-2) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with a chance to complete a perfect weekend run. The Cougars will try to rebound from a 67-62 overtime loss to Waukegan that left open the possibility of a three-way tie for the title. That scenario only comes into play if St. Mel loses.

“We’re going to have execute for sure,” Ervin Sr. said. “That team is good, and they’re going to be upset after losing in overtime.”

Quincy (0-2) and Waukegan (1-1) will play the final game of the weekend at 7 p.m. Saturday with the Blue Devils hoping to avoid going winless in their own tournament for the first time since 2008.

It’s the inefficiency offensively that has put the Blue Devils in this position.

They shot 35.8 percent from the field — marginally better than the 27 percent Quincy shot in Thursday’s loss to St. Louis Christian — and just 20 percent from 3-point range. Making matters worse, the Blue Devils scored just 12 points off the Knights’ 20 turnovers.

“Scoring, and we knew this coming into this year, isn’t going to be easy for us,” Douglas said.

Because of that, the Blue Devils have trailed for more than 57 of the 64 minutes they’ve played in two games.

“We’re struggling right now in the execution category,” said Douglas, who got 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting from Smith and 10 points and seven rebounds from Jirehl Brock. “When we need to run a quick hitter, we can’t mess things up. Right now, we’re not a 100-percent team in execution. We’re probably closer to a 75-percent team. We’re not talented enough to not execute and expect to win.”

Certainly not when the other team executes in crucial moments.

Deion Jackson scored twice and Tyriel Nelson made a layup in the crucial stretch late in the fourth quarter and were among three Knights to finish in double figures. Nelson had a game-high 20 points, while Eric Jordan had 15 and Jackson finished with 13.

“We’re not executing at a high-enough level defensively when it comes to positioning,” Douglas said. “It’s not effort and energy, but it’s lack of execution.”

48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament

Providence St. Mel 58, Quincy High School 52

Off the mark: Blue Devils’ struggles shooting lead to opening loss

Quincy High School’s Adonte Crider attempts to navigate through St. Louis Christian Academy’s Evangelis Dermisis, left, and Tiki Musaka on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Nov. 23, 2018 1:20 am Updated: Nov. 23, 2018 1:35 am

QUINCY — Lucas Reis was as wide-eyed talking about the St. Louis Christian boys basketball team’s size as he was the first time he drove to the basket Thursday night and saw nothing but armpits and elbows.

“They’re tall,” the Quincy High School junior point guard. “That was brutal.”

It impacted every shot the Blue Devils attempted, no matter how far from the basket they were.

It wasn’t the only reason Quincy shot 27.2 percent from the field in a 54-48 loss on the opening night of the 48th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament at Blue Devil Gym, but the Blue Devils were forced to contend with 6-foot-10 freshman Tiki Musaka around the basket more than they planned because of the struggles on the perimeter.

Quincy shot just 21.2 percent from 3-point, missing its first six long-range attempts.

“Some of us played a little scared at first,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said after Quincy lost its season opener for the first time since 2012. “But they’re human. They play basketball just like us. We can’t be afraid to go up against guys like that.”

It’s easier to do so when you make a few shots.

The Blue Devils didn’t make a 3-pointer until freshman Jeremiah Talton came off the bench and knocked one down from the right wing with 2:40 to play in the first quarter, but they were trailing by seven points at the time. They missed three of their next four shots and found themselves down by nine after the first quarter.

The Cougars’ lead continued to grow. The Blue Devils missed four of their first five shots of the second quarter and trailed by as many as 15 points.

A floater in the lane by Smith and a 3-pointer from the right corner by Talton as time expired trimmed the deficit to 31-21 at halftime, giving the Blue Devils a glimmer of hope.

“We learned mental toughness,” Reis said. “We struggled in the first half and part of the second half, but we kept playing our game and playing together.”

They were forced to believe the shots would fall.

“I had remind some of the guys of that, and I had to remind myself of that,” said Smith, who had 11 points but went 4 of 22 from the field overall and 3 of 13 from 3-point range. “The coaches reminded me of that. It’s got to fall. It’s going to fall eventually.”

It just didn’t happen Thursday night.

The Blue Devils didn’t seize any momentum from Talton’s buzzer-beater, making just one of their first 12 shots of the second half. The one that went in was a rebound dunk by Jirehl Brock.

They were down 17 points before finding any rhythm, going on a 9-0 run to get within eight points with 1:31 to go in the third quarter. The Cougars scored the final four points of the quarter to regain some separation.

“All in all, the guys’ effort was there,” Christian coach Casey Autenrieth said. “Defensively, we did OK at moments. A lot of times we were giving guys open looks, but they weren’t hitting them tonight. Had they been hitting them, we would have been in trouble.”

The Cougars, who committed 27 turnovers, scored just one point over the game’s final three minutes, but the Blue Devils never got it closer than a two-possession game. They missed four of their final five shots and committed a critical turnover with 26 seconds remaining that stalled the rally.

“We have some fight,” said Quincy coach Andy Douglas, whose team will play Providence St. Mel on Friday night. “We already knew that, but we have to be better. Defensively, we have to be better. And we have to make shots.”

The Blue Devils have no doubt they will.

“That’s why we have teammates,” Reis said. “That’s why you pick each other up.”