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