By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
QUINCY — The team that turned the Western Big Six Conference title chase from a runaway into a dogfight finished its job as the ultimate spoiler.
It also ruined a celebration that began a little too soon.
The Moline boys basketball team made 11 3-pointers and closed Friday night’s game on a 9-2 run, upending Quincy High School 45-41 at Blue Devil Gym and costing the Blue Devils an outright WB6 championship.
“Upset, frustrated, probably shocked a little bit,” QHS coach Andy Douglas said of the postgame locker room atmosphere.
It was the most distraught locker room the Blue Devils have experienced
“To say the least,” Quincy senior forward Parker Bland said.
That’s because so much was at stake.
The Blue Devils (20-5, 7-3 WB6) saw a 28-game home winning streak snapped and missed out on going undefeated at home in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. They also had the opportunity for the program’s 12th outright WB6 title — Quincy and Rock Island share the record with 11 — but were forced to settle for a three-way tie with Rock Island and United Township.
It is the third time in WB6 history three teams shared the title and the second time the league champion finished with three losses.
Quincy had secured at least a tie for the title going into Friday’s game, and “2017” had already been painted on the north wall of Blue Devil Gym along with the years of the other 21 conference titles.
It wasn’t inaccurate, but celebrating it might have been a little premature.
“Our emotions weren’t really with us tonight,” said Bland, who led Quincy with 12 points. “They were kind of all over, scattered around. I’m not one to make excuses. We should have come out here and battled and played like we know how to and we just didn’t.”
It allowed Moline (19-8, 6-4 WB6) to get off to a roaring start.
Deonte Billups hit a 3-pointer from the left corner on the Maroons’ opening possession and they proceeded to hit four more treys in the first quarter in building an 18-13 lead.
“We really weren’t with it tonight,” Bland said. “We came out with kind of a slow tempo. We didn’t come out like we usually come out.”
The Blue Devils gained some traction in the second quarter and went into halftime down only 25-24. A 7-0 run by Quincy to begin the third quarter changed the tempo as Moline failed to score on its first seven possessions of the second half.
But back-to-back 3-pointers by Billups and Jake Pittington erased the Blue Devils’ six-point advantage in just 29 seconds.
“We hung together and had some good possessions,” said Moline coach Sean Taylor, who coached Quincy from 2003-2014 and was on the opposing sideline for the second time since being fired. “We didn’t get rattled.”
The teams traded the lead four times with two ties over an eight-minute span before Moline took control on Nathan Hurt’s 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining. Hurt also made two free throws with 15.7 seconds remaining and finished with 16 points.
“He made some shots and controlled it,” Taylor said. “Defensively, he was really good all night.”
Hurt’s 3-pointer was the dagger.
“It went so quick,” Douglas said. “It’s a tie game with 2 minutes, 40 seconds or whatever was left, and then just like that it changes. When you’re playing a team that is as hot as they were this game, it can change just like that. We didn’t make enough plays to combat that.”
Quincy didn’t make a field goal the final 4:30 and missed its final five shots. The Blue Devils shot just 38.1 percent from the field and were 3 of 12 from 3-point range.
“The energy wasn’t there,” Douglas said. “The focus wasn’t there.”
It allowed Moline to win at Blue Devil Gym for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
“I hope they understand how difficult it is to win down here,” Taylor said. “It’s tougher to do against a really, really good team that has strength and quickness and shooting. I don’t know if we realize how good of a win that is.”