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