By Matt Schuckman Herald-Whig
QUINCY — The marquee game of the inaugural Quincy Shootout needed marquee players to deliver marquee performances.
Aaron Shoot and Courtney Ramey didn’t disappoint in the fourth quarter Saturday night.
Trailing by 17 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Quincy High School boys basketball team nearly erased the entire deficit, getting 13 points and a series of clutch shots from Shoot to pull within one point on four occasions.
Ramey answered each time. The Webster Groves senior point guard made 8 of 8 free throws in the final 1:06 and finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds to help the Statesmen stave off the Blue Devils and secure a 58-55 victory at Blue Devil Gym.
“I knew it was going to be a big-time atmosphere,” said Ramey, one of the top 75 seniors in the country. “We jumped on them early, but we knew they were a great team, and they’d fight back. They made it interesting at the end.”
It took three quarters for that to happen.
Ramey’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the third quarter gave the Statesmen, the No. 1-ranked team in Missouri Class 5, a 46-29 lead. It felt like a dagger after the Blue Devils had trimmed an 18-point halftime to 12 earlier in the quarter.
Quincy junior Jirehl Brock started a 12-2 run by scoring on the first two possessions of the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils (15-4) scored on six consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, with Shoot’s 3-pointer with 1:09 to play pulling them within 50-49.
“All the wins they’ve had here and all the tradition, they don’t know how to lose,” Webster Groves coach Jay Blossom said.
Quincy coach Andy Douglas challenged his players.
“This is a group that I haven’t had to challenge often,” he said. “I thought we played tentative in the first half. I thought we played scared. We challenged them to play with some heart, play with some edge. They found a way to do that.”
The problem was they could never get over the hump.
Shoot answered two Ramey free throws with a reverse layup, making it 52-51 with 36 seconds to go. After a missed free throw by the Statesmen’s R.J. Wright with 17.4 seconds to play, Brock came down with the rebound, only to tumble to the floor and get called for traveling.
Webster Groves (12-6) then whittled nearly nine more seconds off the clock before Ramey hit a pair of free throws. He made six straight in the final eight seconds and finished 16 of 18 from the line.
“He’s one of the best guards in the country,” Blossom said. “Knocked down free throws, stayed composed when we were a little rattled. He did the things we expect him to do in those situations.”
Saint Louis University recruit Carte’Are Gordon, a 6-foot-8 power forward, was suspended after Friday night’s game against SLUH and didn’t make the trip, so Ramey figured to shoulder the load. Yet the Statesmen get everyone involved defensively in the first half, turning eight turnovers by the Blue Devils into nine points to build the big lead..
“Our role players really stepped up and made some big-time plays,” Ramey said.
They did what Douglas expected them to do. The Statesmen played physical, in-your-face defense.
“They frustrated our guys and took us out of what we wanted to do,” Douglas said. “They did a great job defensively, and we did a poor job of executing our offense. Was it because of our execution or them? I’d say it’s a healthy mix between the two.”
Quincy scored 26 points in the fourth quarter, three fewer than it scored in the first three quarters combined.
Shoot finished with 23 points, four assists and three steals while battling Ramey play-for-play down the stretch.
“I’m not going to say Aaron Shoot’s Division I, but he’s pretty dang close,” Douglas said. “He’s a heck of a player.”
That made the Statesmen appreciate what they had done.
“It’s a big-time win,” Ramey said.