Blue Devils rally in closing minutes to knock off Tigers

By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFFPosted: Dec. 29, 2019 12:40 am 

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — The scenario wasn’t ideal, especially considering the opponent. 

The Quincy High School boys basketball team trailed Edwardsville 45-35 with 3 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s consolation bracket semifinal at the 36th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic. 

“You typically don’t win a game like that against Edwardsville,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “They know how to take the air out of the ball and squeeze out victories in games like that.” 

The Blue Devils didn’t care who the opponent or what history suggested. 

Their will to win was too strong to be trumped by tradition. 

Jack Rupert hit a 3-point with 1:06 to play to make it a one-point game and Lucas Reis buried a game-winning trey with six seconds remaining as the Blue Devils rallied for a 51-50 victory in the auxiliary gym. 

Quincy (9-3) will face Belleville Althoff at 3 p.m. Monday in Vergil Fletcher Gym for the consolation championship and the chance to finish the tournament with a 3-1 record. 

“The big thing is they trusted each other,” Douglas said. “In the past, we would have fallen apart. You could see this group pulling for each other and telling each other to stay together. They made it happen.” 

The Blue Devils caught a couple of breaks, too. 

A three-point play by Jeremiah Talton started the final comeback and his 3-pointer made it 47-41 with 2:39 to play. Following a turnover by the Tigers, Talton made a pair of free throws and Edwardsville’s Ethan Young split a pair. Rupert then popped loose on the wing and buried a 3-pointer. 

Young was fouled again and split a pair of free throws again. Quincy’s Brady Rupert slipped behind Edwardsville’s defense to convert an uncontested layup to cut the deficit to 49-48 with 36 seconds to play. Instead of fouling immediately, the Blue Devils played looked for a steal before sending the Tigers’ Brennan Weller to the line with 22 seconds remaining. 

Weller made the first, missed the second and Talton grabbed the defensive rebound. Quincy got the ball into Crider’s hands and allowed him to drive baseline while Reis ran off a Talton screen. Crider kicked to Reis, who buried the shot for the one-point lead. 

Edwardsville didn’t get off a field goal attempt in the final seconds. 

“We executed it perfectly,” Douglas said. 

Talton led the Blue Devils with 22 points and seven rebounds, while Reis had 10 points and four assists. Crider finished with four assists. 

Quincy advanced to the semifinals by beating Rockford East 77-61 as Talton scored a career-high 30 points. Crider added 19 points, while Reis and Brady Rupert had 11 apiece. The Blue Devils built a 42-21 lead at halftime by limiting the E-Rabs to 33.3 percent shooting from the field in the first half. 

Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic 

Quincy 51, Edwardsville 50

No nervous Nellies: Blue Devils withstand Raiders’ rally to win another crosstown showdown

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Dec. 22, 2019 12:01 am 


It never reached the point of panic, but the Quincy High School boys basketball team found itself on the edge of concern as its lead and the minutes remaining in the fourth quarter dwindled.

Time ran out before the advantage ever did.

Quincy Notre Dame chiseled a 20-point halftime deficit to just five in the waning seconds of Saturday’s crosstown showdown at the Pit before QHS senior point guard Lucas Reis corralled a defensive rebound with five seconds to play and ran out the clock on a 55-50 victory.

“I didn’t get nervous because I could see it out on the floor how we were coming together through that time,” Reis said. “We were talking, and we know we have a lot of things to fix offensively and defensively, but we came together to finish the job.”

It gave the Blue Devils their fifth straight victory in the city series and improved their all-time record against the Raiders to 50-5.

“I feel like this brought us closer together,” QHS sophomore swingman Jeremiah Talton said. “Because of that, in late games, we can play better and do the things we need to do.”

However, this was the first time since the series was renewed in 2015 the Blue Devils had to sort of sweat it out. The five-point margin of victory is the smallest in the last five meetings and one of only two matchups decided by single digits.

“It wasn’t one of those losses where you’re sad after,” QND junior forward Jack Marth said. “It’s something we feel we can build on. It’s a confidence booster heading into (the State Farm Holiday Classic).”

The first half didn’t mirror that.

Marth hit a 15-foot jumper to tie the game at 2 roughly 80 seconds into the game, but the Raiders (2-5) didn’t make another field goal until Grant Hyer, who had 12 points and five assists while playing on a sprained ankle, scored in the paint with 4:06 to play in the first half. In the 101/2 minutes before baskets, QND was outscored 23-5, missed six shots and committed eight turnovers.

“We were just rushing things,” said Marth, who had 10 points and four rebounds. “Their zone was a little too much for us. We were able to slow things down in the second half and get better looks.”

It was a 33-13 deficit not just because the Raiders went 3 of 17 from the field in the first half, but the Blue Devils were dynamic offensively. They jumped ahead 12-4 by scoring on five straight possessions and maintained similar rhythm in the second quarter, scoring five times in a seven-possession stretch that pushed the lead to 30-9.

The Blue Devils shot 54.5% from the field in the first half, while turning 12 turnovers into 14 points.

“Ball movement and player movement. That’s pretty much it,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said. “Against their zone, we did a really good job of being patient and dissecting it. We made some passes from the top of the key to the block to get guys open. We got guys shots where they needed to get shots.”

Those shots weren’t as available, nor did they fall with the same consistency in the second half.

The Blue Devils went 2 of 13 from the field in the third quarter, while the Raiders scored on four of their first six possessions and pulled within 11 points heading into the fourth quarter.

“Like the coaches always say, we’re going to throw punches, they’re going to throw punches,” said Reis, who led the Blue Devils with 16 points and eight assists. “You can’t win a fight on one punch. We were punching with them, and they were answering. They answered the whole game.”

The Raiders did it incrementally.

“The thing we kept talking about was being surgical,” QND coach Kevin Meyer said. “You have to make a cut here and make a cut there. It’s not going to be an axe. We don’t have a 20-point play, but we can score and get some things going and get ourselves back in the game.”

The Blue Devils didn’t make it easy, opening the fourth quarter by scoring the first seven points to extend the lead to 46-28. However, the Raiders’ Nathan Schutte made a pair of 3-pointers, Jake Hoyt buried a trey and QND turned a pair of QHS turnovers into baskets to finally trim the deficit to single digits with 40 seconds to play.

There weren’t enough possessions nor enough time to finish the rally, namely because the Blue Devils didn’t panic and give anything away.

“I felt like we had it under control on the defensive end, and that translated to good offense,” Talton said. “We made plays on both ends when we absolutely had to.”

Blue Devils’ offense gets hi-Jack-ed by Panthers in fourth quarter

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Dec. 8, 2019 12:20 am 

QUINCY — Jack Kahoun didn’t wait until the final seconds to deliver a dagger. 

This one came with 4 minutes, 25 seconds still to play Saturday night, but it was every bit as lethal. 

The Oswego senior guard buried a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Panthers the lead for the first time since the middle part of the second quarter, and it was part of a 20-2 run that allowed Oswego to ruin the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s plan to stay undefeated until head coach Andy Douglas returned from suspension. 

The Panthers erased a 12-point deficit with their overwhelming run and earned a 60-49 victory at Blue Devil Gym, beating the Blue Devils for a third straight season. 

“I knew when I hit that three we were going to go on from there,” Kahoun said. “It was a very good feeling.” 

He’s experienced that sensation before in this series. 

As a sophomore, Kahoun hit a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining to give Oswego a 56-55 victory at Blue Devil Gym. Last year, he tipped in a miss at the buzzer for a 61-59 victory at Oswego. Saturday night gave him one more moment to savor. 

“It’s my last year playing in this gym,” said Kahoun, who had 11 points. “I’m going to miss it. It’s been one of my favorite games to play throughout the season.” 

A lucky bounce on a 3-point attempt by Quincy (4-1) to start the fourth quarter made it appear Kahoun was headed for a bitter finale. 

The Blue Devils led 42-33 after Jack Rupert hit a 3-pointer on the final possession of the third quarter. The junior guard opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from the top of the key that hit the back of the rim, popped straight up and plopped through the net for a 12-point advantage. 

“When it happened, I thought, ‘Oh, here we go. They’re starting to pull away,'” Kahoun said after the Panthers improved to 7-0. “That’s when I had to get my team together.” 

Oswego’s Joey Niesman answered with a 3-pointer, the Panthers got 6-foot-9 Connor McCance involved and the Blue Devils fell into an offensive chasm. 

Quincy scored just two points over a span of 5:49, missing nine consecutive shots. Two misses at the rim early in that stretch contributed to the momentum shift that resulted in the Blue Devils getting outscored 27-7 in the fourth quarter. 

“Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought we kind of hung our heads a little bit,” said interim Quincy coach Tom Lepper, who will guide the Blue Devils in Tuesday night’s game at Rock Island Alleman before Douglas returns to the sidelines. “I guess the lesson tonight is when you’re going against good teams, you know they are going to make runs. When they made a run, we did not respond.” 

Not only could the Blue Devils not stop the run, they couldn’t stem the tide with a basket. 

They made just one of their final 14 shots and committed four turnovers in that stretch. Overall, Quincy shot just 27.6 percent from the field (16 of 58) and the starting five combined to miss 16 3-point attempts without a make, 

“We can’t let up,” said Quincy point guard Lucas Reis, who had a team-high 16 points and four assists. “We might get tired, but in games like this against good teams like that, we can’t stop. Shots might not fall, but we have to stick with it.” 

The Blue Devils didn’t. 

“That’s us not being mentally strong,” Reis said. 

It was a sudden, drastic change. 

Although they trailed a majority of the first half, the Blue Devils closed the second quarter on a 12-2 run for a 27-21 lead as Reis went 6 of 6 from the line and scored eight points in that stretch. Quincy then held Oswego to three points over the last 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter. 

“I honestly thought we played the best two quarters in the second and third that we’ve played all year,” Lepper said. “We were in sync. We were in rhythm.” 

The fourth quarter was an entirely different story. The Panthers’ Kobe Adams had 10 of his 22 points in the final stanza, while McCance had four points, six rebounds and a blocked shot. The Northern Michigan signee finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks and was central in the defensive effort that turned the tide. 

“In the huddle after the third quarter, I told our guys everything we do has to be perfect and it starts with our defense,” Kahoun said. 

And the Panthers knew he’d make a play when it mattered most. 

Against Quincy, he always has. 

Oswego 60, Quincy 49

Experience matters as Reis guides Blue Devils to WB6 victory

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Dec. 7, 2019 1:20 am 

QUINCY — The memories of the occasional abuse Aaron Shoot delivered in practice two years ago don’t haunt Lucas Reis. 

They motivate him. 

And the Quincy High School senior point guard showcased all he learned from trying to defend Shoot during a pivotal stretch of the fourth quarter Friday night in the Western Big Six Conference opener against Galesburg. 

The Blue Devils led 50-49 with three minutes to play when Reis shook free of Silver Streaks sophomore guard Daylan Ellington to score three consecutive baskets, putting the finishing touches on a 59-50 victory at Blue Devil Gym. 

“I did the same thing to Aaron Shoot,” Reis said of the way Ellington applied tenacity and pressure. “And he blew by me every day. Last year, facing that, I probably would have turned it over. Absolutely, I would have. I knew I just had to keep calm. That’s a big emphasis, just staying calm. 

“That’s what (QHS coach Andy) Douglas told me this week. He said, ‘They think from watching film you’re going to turn it over, but you’re not the same player.’ He trusts me. (Assistant coach Tom Lepper) trusts me with the ball. That’s what has my confidence up.” 

With Reis at the controls, the Blue Devils never lost the lead in the second half. 

Quincy (4-0, 1-0 WB6) led 36-31 at halftime but watched Galesburg pull within two points twice in the third quarter, but Reis drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 45-40 with 2:40 remaining in the quarter as the Blue Devils went on a 7-0 run. 

Galesburg forward Jaylin McCants answered by scoring seven of the first eight points of the fourth quarter to pull the Silver Streaks within 50-49. That’s when Reis played like a savvy veteran. 

He finished with 20 points, seven assists and three steals. 

“Huge improvement from where he was last year,” Galesburg coach Ryan Hart said. “He’s improved his game 100 times. He can get the ball where it needs to go. He’s strong with the ball. If you let him get in rhythm, he’s going to knock down shots, too. 

“It was on the board that we needed to keep him away from the rim and not let him get in-rhythm jump shots. To his credit, he was able to do it.” 

More importantly, he helped the Blue Devils find their rhythm defensively after a rough first quarter. 

The Silver Streaks opened the game by hitting five consecutive 3-pointers and led 15-5 just 3:15 into the game. The Blue Devils crawled back in the game, pulling within 21-18 as seven players scored in the first quarter. 

“We came out real flat,” said Lepper, who is serving as interim coach during Douglas’ six-game suspension. “We told them in the locker room you have to contest, and we did a poor job doing that. When shooters make shots like that, you’re left with a poor outlook when you’re looking up at the scoreboard.” 

But the Blue Devils changed their defensive energy and the flow of the game. 

Quincy allowed just 10 points in the second quarter and 29 total over the final three quarters as Galesburg went 4 of 22 from 3-point range following its blistering start. Senior forward Jaylin McCants finished with 20 points — 14 in the second half — and he was the only Silver Streak to score in the fourth quarter. 

“I thought our energy was a little slow to start the game, but they turned it around,” Lepper said. 

It started by taking away shooters. 

“Tom wasn’t going to let them shoot all day long, especially wide open,” Hart said. “They got out on them.” 

Galesburg went 2 of 14 from 3-point range in the second half. 

“We knew they could shoot coming in, but they came out swinging,” Reis said. “The emphasis at the end of the first quarter was the fact we needed to pick the defensive effort up. That’s what we did, and that’s what won us the game. 

“It was us a group coming together. We were telling each other to stay calm. By doing that, it changed everything.” 

Quincy 59, Galesburg 50

Course correction: Hot-shooting Blue Devils cap perfect weekend with title

Quincy HighÕs Ian Richardson, left, and Jack Rupert, right, attempt to block a shot attempt by Chicago LeoÕs Kevin Drumgoole at Blue Devil Gym during the 49th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Dec. 1, 2019 7:20 pm 

QUINCY — As soon he released his 3-point attempt, Lucas Reis had a dreadful thought. 

“I was like, ‘Dang, that might get stuck in the rim,'” he said. 

He actually misguided it worse than that. The shot from the left wing hit the backboard first and caromed at the perfect angle to fall through the rim, extending the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s second-quarter lead to 14 points against Chicago Leo in Saturday night’s finale of the 49th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament. 

All Reis could do as he headed back on defense was shrug his shoulders. 

“I was watching it, and when it went in, I was like, ‘There’s no way,'” the senior point guard said. 

On this night, with the chance at a perfect weekend, everything fell the Blue Devils’ way. 

Leo managed just four second-quarter points — the Lions scored on their first and last possessions of the quarter — and Quincy shot a blistering 59.5 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range in a 66-45 victory at Blue Devil Gym. 

It is the Blue Devils’ 34th title all-time and ninth in the past 11 seasons. 

“It’s this atmosphere,” said Reis, who had nine points and six assists and was named to the all-tournament team. “You can’t ask for anything better.” 

It was a complete reversal of fortunes after the Blue Devils went winless in this tournament a year ago. 

“That was hard,” junior forward Brady Rupert said. “Everybody had doubt in us. We needed to come back strong and show people what we have.” 

That’s a hard-nosed attitude. 

Facing a Leo frontcourt featuring 6-foot-6 junior Tim Howard and 6-4 junior Kalil Lacking, Quincy played with no fear. The 6-1 Rupert scored the Blue Devils’ first three field goals, twice finishing at the rim and draining a 12-foot jumper after rolling off a screen in the high post. 

“Once I hit the first one, I was like, ‘I’ve got to make more,'” Rupert said. 

He never stopped. Rupert went 11 of 15 from the field with a game-high 25 points and made three consecutive 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. But it was his decision making that led to scoring opportunities as he consistently made the right choice whether to attack Howard and Lacking off the dribble or stop and attempt 12- to 15-foot jumpers. 

“I keep telling him that if he sets that ball screen (at the top of the key) and you roll and they give it to you, you have to stop and pop,” interim QHS coach Tom Lepper said. “The minute you start to dribble, the defense is going to hound you.” 

Early in the third quarter, Rupert did exactly what Lepper suggested on back-to-back possessions and smoothly made both shots. 

“He came to the sideline and I asked him, ‘Do you see what I’m saying now?'” Lepper said. “He had a big smile and said yeah.” 

Rupert’s confident start rubbed off on everyone else. 

Jeremiah Talton hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, buried four treys overall and finished with 18 points and six rebounds as he was named the tournament MVP. Adonte Crider, also an all-tournament selection, had 12 points as the starting five scored all the points. 

The bench contributed five assists, six rebounds, two blocks and energy defensively. The Lions went 2 of 12 from the field in the second quarter and never recovered. Howard, who averaged 18 points over the first two games, was held to six points, four of which came in the fourth quarter. 

Kevin Drumgoole led Leo with 10 points as the Lions shot just 37.7 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from 3-point range. 

“Effort,” Reis said of the reason behind the good defense. “Jeremiah is drawing charges. People are getting on the floor. If we win 50-50 balls and are giving that effort, we’re going to be fine all year. It’s the little things that will make us good.” 

The Blue Devils already are several steps ahead of where they were a year ago. 

“It’s a different team, different year and we have a whole different mindset,” Reis said. 

49th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament 

Quincy 66, Chicago Leo 45

Humphrey, Devils refuse to budge on defense

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Nov. 30, 2019 1:00 am 

QUINCY — Drae Humphrey didn’t score a single point Friday night. He didn’t attempt a shot or get credited with an assist. If not for a rebound, he wouldn’t have been found in the boxscore. 

Yet, he played the most significant role in the Quincy High School boys basketball team’s success. 

Humphrey stepped into the starting lineup against Waukegan and took over as the point man on the Blue Devils’ 1-2-2 zone defense. The junior guard’s physical presence and ability to deny high post penetration stymied everything the Bulldogs wanted to do. 

Quincy limited Waukegan to five points in each of the first two quarters, built its advantage to as many as 31 points and improved to 2-0 with a 65-36 drubbing in the 49th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament at Blue Devil Gym. 

The Blue Devils will look for the championship and the weekend sweep against Chicago Leo at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Lions were upset 61-60 by St. Charles (Mo.) Lutheran North as Tahj Patterson converted a three-point play with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation. 

“They do have a physical presence inside,” QHS interim coach Tom Lepper said of Leo. “We have to find a way to keep them off the glass and muscle up with them a little bit. There’s always ways in that defense where you can adjust to what teams want to do and try to take that away.” 

Like changing the point man of the defense the way the Blue Devils did Friday. 

“The coaches always tell me you have to know your role,” Humphrey said. “I tend try to do that the best I can. I’m not the best scorer. I’m not the tallest on the floor, but I’m always going to hustle and do my best on the boards.” 

And in this case, Humphrey had to take up space and take away driving lanes. 

“On film, we noticed these guys weren’t the best shooters and they were taller and wanted to get in the paint,” Humphrey said. “So (interim coach Tom Lepper) told me to get down and get ready and just patient by letting them come to you.” 

When the Bulldogs did, they got knocked away. Waukegan turned the ball over on four of its first seven possessions, went 4 minutes, 51 seconds between field goals and watched Quincy go on an 11-0 by scoring nine points off turnovers. 

Things only got worse. The Bulldogs made just one field goal in the second quarter, missed their final 10 shots of the half and trailed 26-10 at halftime after shooting just 15.8 percent. 

“We’re not going outside the box my any means,” Lepper said. “We’re just trying to contain the ball. We don’t have overly quick guys, but we do a good job of containing the ball and keeping the ball out of the middle, which I thought really took them out of their game.” 

By Humphrey taking away the high post and the wing defenders challenging shooters, the Bulldogs didn’t have many scoring options. 

Kijuan Stricklin-Davis led Waukegan with 15 points, but 14 of those came in the second half. No one else scored more than four points and the Bulldogs didn’t make a single shot from the high post. 

“Drae has a really good basketball mind,” Lepper said. “He knows where everybody is on the floor, not only defensively, but he does a great job of that offensively also. He reads things. He knows if I’m not supposed to be here I’m going to get the heck out of here. 

“He plays within his realm, and more opportunities come to players who know that.” 

Jeremiah Talton knows his realm and it’s to score. The sophomore swingman found his rhythm doing that. 

Talton made three 3-pointers to open the second half, knocked down five overall and scored a game-high 23 points. He also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and drew two more charges. 

That was all after missing his first two shots. 

“I just think the next one’s going in,” Talton said. “You have to stay with that transition throughout.” 

No other Blue Devils scored in double figures, but none were needed as 12 of the 15 players who saw action scored. 

“I think we’ve been doing pretty well, but the best is yet to come,” Humphrey said. 

49th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament 

Quincy 65, Waukegan 36

Right move at right time makes Lepper’s debut successful

Quincy High School assistant coach Tom Lepper, who is filling in as the interim coach while Andy Douglas serves a six-game suspension, watches from the sideline during the Blue Devils’ 62-50 victory over St. Charles (Mo.) Lutheran North on Thursday night at Blue Devil Gym. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger

By Matt Schuckman Herald-WhigPosted: Nov. 29, 2019 3:10 am Updated: Nov. 29, 2019 3:18 am

The Quincy High School boys basketball players generously estimated Tom Lepper’s pregame speech lasted about 30 seconds. 

By then, what else was there to say? 

“We were prepared and he knew it,” senior guard Lucas Reis said. 

Even so, the Blue Devils shared a mix of adrenalin and anxiousness with their interim leader prior to Thursday night’s season opener against St. Charles (Mo.) Lutheran North in the 49th annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament. With head coach Andy Douglas serving a six-game suspension for his offseason guilty plea to driving under the influence of alcohol, Lepper was tasked with being the fill-in. 

That didn’t change much for the long-time assistant coach outside of being the first to speak and the one with the last word. 

So some trepidation is understandable. 

“You could tell he was a little nervous,” Reis said. “He just wanted to get there.” 

So why waste time on a pregame speech? 

Lepper saved what he had to say until halftime when the Blue Devils led just 28-24 and needed to make some adjustments. 

“I told them at halftime I was a little excited and I take partial blame for the way we played,” Lepper said. “I told them to go out and guard. Let’s go get ’em. I get bored when they pass it around, but then you have to go with what works.” 

Lutheran North didn’t handle the pressure early, allowing the Blue Devils to bolt to an 8-0 lead and failing to score until Isiah Wlliams’ putback with 4:40 to play in the first quarter. The Crusaders whittled away the entire deficit with three minutes remaining in the first half by scoring off dribble penetration. 

So Lepper and assistant coaches Bruce Bonness and Doug Bruner made a critical adjustment and pulled back on the aggressiveness. 

“I told them let’s just contain it,” Lepper said. “Let’s keep the ball in front of us and keep it from going in the middle and see what happens. We started getting some rebounds and it started working out for us.” 

The Blue Devils assumed it would. 

“When we tried to pressure, they figured out the middle was going to be wide open,” Reis said. “(Lepper) said to play back and kind of cluster everything up. I don’t think they were expecting it.” 

It changed the tone of the game enough to allow the Blue Devils to roll to a 62-50 victory and a 1-0 coaching record for the former all-state center who has been a part of the QHS coaching staff the past two decades. 

As different as Thursday night seemed in many ways — the 6-foot-9 Lepper casts a more imposing sideline figure than Douglas — the end result came down to knowing the game, the personnel and how to get your point across. 

It doesn’t take long to do that if you say the right things. 

Lepper needed only 30 seconds to remind the Blue Devils they were in this together.