QUINCY -- United Township boys basketball coach Marc Polite and the Panthershad every reason to head into the locker room with a little pep.|
The Panthers knocked down five 3-pointers in the first half against Quincy,staved off a second-quarter run and trailed the Western Big 6 Conference-leading BlueDevils by just four at halftime.
"I thought we played well," Polite said. "We definitely had some things weneeded to address (at halftime), but I thought we had given ourselves achance."
The Blue Devils took that opportunity away.
Quincy opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run, getting eight straight pointsfrom senior guard Martin Kvitle and riding the momentum to a 62-52 victoryat Blue Devil Gym.
"We're going to come into every game thinking, You're going to lose," saidKvitle, who went 10 of 17 from the field and scored a game-high 24 points. "We know it's not going to come just by coming in and showing up. We'regoing to have to play hard and blue collar. Everybody has the confidence."
They put it on display.
The Blue Devils (14-4, 6-0 WB6) enjoyed one of the best offensive nights ofthe season, shooting 57.1 percent from the field (24 of 42) and 54.5 percentfrom 3-point range (6 of 11).
"I think they came out with focus," said Quincy coach Sean Taylor, who got12 points from Zach Burry and 10 points from Mason Fairley. "We got off togood start. (UT) played physical and we didn't cowtow to them. We took itback at them and got some easy ones from it. I think we just played with alot of confidence."
That could carry Quincy to the WB6 crown.
With Moline beating Galesburg 57-56 as the Maroons' Derrick Stabler split apair of free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining, the Blue Devils now own atwo-game lead over both the Silver Streaks and Rock Island with four gamesremaining.
Quincy travels to Galesburg next week with the chance to conceivably knockthe Silver Streaks out of the WB6 race.
"More than any team we've had in the past, we all play for one another,"Kvitle said. "Because of that, we'll be good. We can't get ahead ofourselves. There's a lot of basketball left. But we'll play as a team andgive ourselves a chance."
Together, they took UT to task only after the Panthers made them sweat.
Keegan Wenskunas and Evan Spurgetis came off the bench to combine for four3-pointers -- Wenskunas made three of them -- in the first half as UT leduntil Fairley buried a 3-pointer from about 30 feet at the first-quarterbuzzer.
Although they trailed by as many as seven points in the second quarter, thePanthers (3-17, 1-5) made a push to get within four points at halftime.Sophomore guard Trevor May, who spent much of the first half on the benchwith two fouls, scored five points in the final 51 seconds to make it a32-28 game.
The momentum was left in the locker room. The Blue Devils' opening salvo ofthe third quarter featured five points coming off Panthers' turnovers as UTcommitted six miscues in the quarter and 18 overall.
"I just thought we had some struggles taking care of the basketball," Politesaid. "We had some stretches where we threw it around the gym a little bit."
Quincy took advantage, making its first five shots and going 9 of 11 fromthe field overall in the third quarter.
"We had a pretty good flow," Taylor said.
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