QUINCY -- To start and end its scoring in overtime on Friday night, the Quincy boys' basketball team ran two plays with the same person.
Each time, Rock Island could not properly defend them.
Quincy senior guard Mason Fairley executed each to perfection, converting a baseline layup on the initial sequence and two foul shots as a conclusion. The free throws ultimately decided the outcome in Rocky's 48-47 Western Big 6 Conference loss at Blue Devil Gym.
"We were really worried about (Quincy senior guard Martin) Kvitle," Rocky senior guard Brian Richardson said. "Every time we worry about one player, another player kills us. We were worried too much about one person."
Rocky (14-4, 3-2 Big 6) had a chance to win after the free throws, but junior guard C.J. Carr dribbled the ball off his leg near the Quincy basket with :01.7 left.
The Blue Devils (13-3, 5-0) quickly inbounded the ball and dribbled off the remaining clock.
"Our guys are hurting. It bothers them to lose," Rocky coach Thom Sigel said. "We just hope it hurts enough that we tighten things up every night in practice to make that extra play."
Judging by the post-game scene, the pain will linger long past the team's return to the Quad-Cities. Sigel held a longer-than-normal chat with his team in the locker room. Once the door opened, the silence told the whole story.
With five league games left, the three-time reigning Big 6 champions sit one game behind Galesburg and two behind first-place Quincy. The title opportunity no longer rests solely in the Rocks' hands.
"Now, we probably can't be part of it," Richardson said. "Or we have to pray teams beat (Quincy), which I don't see any teams beating them. It's just hard."
A back-and-forth game saw Rocky overcome a 39-31 deficit early in the fourth quarter to force overtime when Kvitle missed an 18-footer as the regulation clock expired. Fairley opened overtime with a layup 36 seconds into the frame, putting the Blue Devils ahead 45-43.
Three minutes later, Richardson buried a trey from the right corner, giving Rocky a 47-46 advantage with :32.3 left.Quincy then worked 20 seconds off the clock before Rocky knocked the ball loose.
After a timeout, the Blue Devils ran an option play with Fairley and Kvitle.
"If they suck under, we're giving it to Martin and he makes a play. If two guys go (with Kvitle), then Mason fakes the handoff and keeps it," Quincy coach Sean Taylor said. "We made good action over there and Martin cut hard like he wanted the ball, then Mason made a great read."
Turns out, it was the winning read. Fairley was fouled four seconds later, then calmly sank the two foul shots.
"They executed it well," Sigel said, "and we had nobody rotate and help."
Coming off a timeout, Carr, who scored a team-high 16 points, took the inbound pass to the right block near the Quincy basket before losing control of the ball on a drive. The ball trickled out of bounds, turning possession over to the Blue Devils.
"Your heart drops, but you don't blame it on one person," said Richardson, who scored 11 points and hit all three of his 3-point attempts. "There are a lot of plays that affected us losing the game. It was a big play, but other plays were just as big. We never blame anything on anybody."
In both Big 6 losses on the road, the Rocks have not made plays went it counted. Rocky has lost each time by one point.
"Where's that play we need to make?" Sigel said. "Down the road, we've got to make that play."
The Rocks know that as their league fate rests on it.
Today is Monday, Sept. 1, the 244th day of 2014. There are 121 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We are informed by J.H. Hull that the reason the street sprinkler was not at work yesterday settling the dust on the streets, was because one of his horses was injured. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Bonnie McGregor, a fleet-footed stallion owned by S.W. Wheelock of this community, covered himself with glory at Lexington, Ky, when he ran a mile in 2:13 1/2. The horse's value was estimated as at least $50,000. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Troops are pouring into Paris to prepare for defense of the city. The German army is reported to be only 60 miles from the capital of France. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The German army has invaded Poland in undeclared warfare. Poland has appealed to Great Britain and France for aid. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Publication of a plant newspaper, the Farmall Works News, has been launched at the Rock Island IHC factory and replaces a managerial newsletter. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Officials predict Monday's Rock Island Labor Parade will be the biggest and best ever. Last minute work continues on floats and costumes for the parade, which steps off a 9:30 a.m.