QUINCY — The Rock Island girls' basketball team could have put it on cruise control Thursday night.|
The Rocks had a reason not to do that.
Rock Island held Quincy scoreless the final 7 minutes, 6 seconds of thefirst quarter, put together a 17-1 run to end the first half and ran thetable on the Western Big 6 Conference with a 70-39 victory.
"It would be easy to say, 'Well, we're already the conference champion,'" said Rock Island coach Thad Hoover, whose team secured their second consecutive Big 6 title two weeks. "But they came out and played hard. That's what you really want as a coach. The rest of the stuff is easy if they're playing hard."
For a minute, it looked like it might not be so simple.
Quincy's Hannah Reller drove the right baseline for a layin on the game's opening possession, and after Carly Hoover answered with a 3-pointer, Rellerscored again on a drive down the lane.
About 15 seconds later, Rocky's Shavonne Brewer put back a missed 3-pointerand the Rocks never trailed again. Quincy went 15 possessions without scoring before Measha Ferguson-Smith ended the run with a layin with 7:14 to go in the second quarter.
"Things might not always go the way we want," said Ferguson-Smith, who led Quincy with 10 points. "You keep battling."
The Blue Devils did that for a stretch, closing with 19-10 on Jordan Fletcher's putback with four minutes remaining in the first half. Then Rocky ran away.
Jacqueline Twing buried a 3-pointer from the left corner to kickstart the 17-1 run. The Rocks (24-3, 10-0 Big 6) scored on seven straight possessions, while converting five Blue Devil turnovers into eight points.
"The kids came out with energy," Hoover said.
It left Quincy befuddled.
The Blue Devils went 5-of-25 from the field in the first half and 1-of-6 from the free-throw line. The Rocks also outrebounded the Blue Devils 19-16 in the first half.
"It's expected," Ferguson-Smith said of facing a physical battle in the Big 6. "We're always going to expect a battle."
Trailing 38-15 with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter, Quincy coach Demond Dade was hit with his second technical foul and ejected. As he left the gym, he was assessed a third technical.
That led to a five-point possession for the Rocks.
"I was doing my job and the refs did theirs," Dade said. "I'll learn from it."
Brewer led the Rocks with 16 points as 13 players ended up in the scoringcolumn, helping Rock Island cement the perfect season.
"Honestly, I thought we'd have a good team," Hoover said. "The girls just kept getting better all year. We're doing what we need to do. We're getting better every day and hopefully peaking at the right time."
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