Get out the shears
Quincy High School senior point guard Martin Kvitle the first 16 games with a crop of curly hair that was a stark contrast to the shaved head he had as a junior.
After beating Rock Island to wrap up the first half of the Western Big Six Conference, it was time to bring the shaved look back.
“To be honest, it was getting annoying,” Kvitle said. “I could feel it in my ears and see it out of my periphery. That’s when I knew it was time to shave it.”
So gone were the curly locks. Unlike Samson, though, Kvitle didn’t lose any strength. In fact, his shot may have improved.
Kvitle knocked down five 3-pointers against Hinsdale South and then followed by going 4 of 9 combined from 3-point range in victories against United Township and Champaign Central. Kvitle finished the weekend with 24 points against UT and 15 against Central.
Combined, he went 14 of 26 from the field and 7 of 9 from the free-throw line while racking up four assists and three steals.
“It’s just better this way,” Kvitle said, shaking his head at the fact he was asked about his haircut.
Spark off the bench
Cole Abbey’s mindset didn’t change much when Quincy High School boys basketball coach Sean Taylor decided to bring the 6-foot senior guard off the bench in victories over United Township and Champaign Central.
“I’ve got to do my part,” Abbey said.
He did just that. Abbey scored 10 first-half points, picked up two steals and helped the Blue Devils some separation in the second quarter that led to a 60-49 victory over Champaign Central. Abbey finished with 14 points, three rebounds and two steals.
“If my part is to play defense and get steals, I have to do that,” Abbey said. “If Coach wants me to drive the ball, I’ll do that.”
What Taylor wants is for Abbey to play with energy, effort and intelligence. He did that in the weekend sweep, going for seven points with one rebound, one steal and one dunk against the Panthers.
And Abbey had no problems getting energized to play, even if he wasn’t starting.
“Last year, I came off the bench,” Abbey said. “So I’m used to it.”
It’s the right attitude to have.
“He played some fantastic minutes,” Kvitle said. “He wanted to play, and you could tell he wanted to play.”
Early against Champaign Central, Quincy forward Jason Salrin was whistled for a foul as he contested the shot of the Maroons’ Xavier Martin. It could have limited Salrin’s aggressiveness.
Instead, Salrin, a 6-foot-7 senior made it extremely difficult for the Maroons to get to the basket, blocking a career-high six shots and establishing himself as an intimidating presence with his help-side defense. He also had one block against United Township.
“He cleaned everything up,” Taylor said.
A nice touch
Taylor has said the Blue Devils need Zach Burry to make shots, especially from the perimeter. Well, he’s knocking down more than just 3-pointers and giving the Blue Devils a lift in the process.
Burry had 12 points against UT and six more against Champaign Central, hitting four 3-pointers in the process. However, he also knocked down a pair of fadeaway jumpers and showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. He has now scored six or more points in five of the last six games, going for double digits twice.
“He’s playing better than I’ve ever seen him play,” Kvitle said. “I knew he could play like this. It goes back to confidence.”
Shot at 20
With six regular-season games remaining, the Blue Devils (15-4) have a shot at reaching the 20-win plateau before the postseason begins. It would be quite an accomplishment. In Taylor’s first nine seasons as head coach, the Blue Devils have won at least 20 games four times, but the 2006-07 team was the only one to reach 20 victories in the regular season. That team won 16 of its final 17 regular-season games and finished with a 23-6 record overall.