By Mat Mikesell Herald-Whig
QUINCY — Jirehl Brock didn’t get to see the floor much Saturday night because of foul trouble, but he made his minutes count in the fourth quarter.
The sophomore guard on the Quincy High School boys basketball team scored four points, grabbed an offensive rebound and had two steals in a 36-second span to help QHS turn a four-point lead into a 53-35 victory over Batavia at Blue Devil Gym. It’s Quincy’s 24th consecutive home victory.
“I wanted to be on the court as much as I could,” Brock said. “I knew I had a foul to give. If I was going to pick up the last foul, I was going to do it as hard as I can.”
Brock’s effort while playing with four fouls resembled that.
Batavia trimmed Quincy’s lead to 38-34 after senior guard Colin Cheaney split a pair of free throws with 4 minutes, 35 seconds remaining. Quincy sophomore guard Jaeden Smith followed by knocking down three free throws.
On the next possession, Smith missed a 3-pointer that Brock collected the rebound and made a putback with 3:36 remaining. After a Batavia turnover led to free throws by guard Aaron Shoot, Brock came up with a steal in the open floor that turned into a layup to push Quincy’s lead to 47-34. Batavia’s Eric Peterson lost possession of the ball while trying to bring the ball up the court seconds later, and Brock dove on the floor for the steal and Quincy coach Andy Douglas called a timeout with 3:01 to go.
“Jirehl, I thought, really stuck in and was mentally tough to play it out with four fouls,” Douglas said. “I though it was a game of heart tonight. We played a really physical game last night, and we had to turn around and play another one tonight.”
The Blue Devils (14-3) showed that in the fourth quarter.
Cheaney scored a layin with 6:18 to go to trim Quincy’s lead to 38-31, and it was the last field goal the Bulldogs (12-11) scored. Batavia went just 1 of 5 from the floor in the final eight minutes and committed five turnovers. Batavia’s final four points in the last 6:18 came from the free-throw line.
Quincy’s Parker Bland and Garrett Gadeke got into foul trouble along with Brock, but the fourth quarter allowed them to play freely.
“That last four minutes when we got them in, it was kind of, ‘Let’s go,'” Douglas said. “That was the time to turn it up defensively.”
That stifling defense allowed Quincy to score 19 points in the fourth quarter on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 7 of 10 from the free-throw line.
“Our defense is really just to generate turnovers and turn it into offense,” said Shoot, who had 13 points, six assists and four steals. “Handling pressure was one of their weaknesses, so we knew we could have success with that.”
Bland, however, was hurt after he scored a layin off an alley-oop with 1:27 remaining. When Bland landed, he got his left leg caught in between the bleachers under the basket and a wheelchair. Bland said when he tried to get up to get back on defense, his leg was twisted.
He left the game, then later left the gym on crutches on his way to get X-rays.
“I heard some cracking,” said Bland, who finished with a game-high 24 points and grabbed six rebounds. “I don’t know if it was (blood) vessels or what, but we’re going to find out.”
Quincy forced Batavia to commit 24 turnovers, and the Blue Devils shot 59.4 percent from the field.