Solid as a Brock: Steal, slam turns tide for Blue Devils

By Herald-Whig

Posted: Jan. 26, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 27, 2019 3:12 pm

QUINCY — Perry Cowan delivered what could have been a lethal blow to any hope the Quincy High School boys basketball team had of rewriting history.

Then Jirehl Brock authored another memorable moment.

The senior guard stole a pass at the top of the key and raced in for a breakaway dunk on the first possession of overtime, changing the tone of what turned out to be a 64-52 victory over DePaul College Prep in Saturday night’s marquee game of the Quincy Shootout at Blue Devil Gym.

Cowan forced the extra session moments earlier when he buried a 3-pointer from just to the right of the top of the key with 2.5 seconds left in regulation.

“Everybody was kind of down,” Brock said. “When you have a three-point lead with that little amount of time left, you think you’re going to win the game. Then they hit a three, and you go to overtime. You don’t know what can happen in overtime.

“You’re kind of down, but I think my team responded well.”

It started with a snatch and a slam.

“Usually the person to get the first punch in overtime takes it over,” said Brock, who finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. “That happened. We needed it. We needed it to win this game.”

The Blue Devils felt the surge one play created.

“It picks up everyone’s energy overall,” Quincy senior guard Jaeden Smith said. “I was hyped after that. Everyone else picked it up defensively, and I thought we did well staying in it.”

Smith needed that as much as anyone.

Quincy went ahead 48-46 with 42.9 seconds remaining in regulation as Smith hit a pair of free throws. Brock came up with a deflection and steal on DePaul College Prep’s ensuing possession, and Smith was fouled with 17.1 seconds remaining.

An 85 percent free-throw shooter who had made 39 of his last 41 attempts, Smith made the first free throw but missed the second. The Rams’ Pavle Pantovic grabbed the rebound and DePaul Prep called timeout with 10.7 seconds remaining.

It allowed them to set up the play for Cowan, the NCAA Division I recruit headed to Brown University who scored a game-high 22 points and tied the game on his only 3-point attempt.

“We set up two different plays in the huddle,” DePaul Prep coach Tom Kleinschmidt said. “We thought they might foul and not let us get a shot off, but they didn’t. They let us play, and we were able to get a good look for Perry.”

It was like a dagger.

“I was down on myself,” said Smith, who made 10 of 12 from the line and finished with 13 points. “If I would have made that free throw, the game would have been sealed.”

He did that in overtime, going 6 of 6 from the line.

“I definitely wasn’t going to miss in overtime,” Smith said. “I missed in regulation, so I had to fix it.”

The Blue Devils fixed a couple of other things with the victory.

First, they figured out how to win a close game. Of Quincy’s 10 losses this season, nine have been by six points or less, including Friday night’s four-point loss at Moline.

They avenged the only loss in program history to DePaul Prep. Known as Gordon Tech in 1990 when the teams met in the Class AA state semifinals, the Rams won by nine points as Kleinschmidt scored 38 points.

Adding intrigue to this rematch, event organizers invited Todd Wemhoener and Kevin Bybee, members of the 1990 Quincy team, to be honorary coaches. The Blue Devils also wore their alternate jerseys with the sleeves, just like the 1990 team wore.

“I think it just shows our guys that they can,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “They are more than capable of being able to compete against the top competition we’ve seen all season long. Hard work pays off. I don’t want to sound cliche, but it does.”

Quincy 64, DePaul College Prep 52