Playing at home for Hall of Fame night, the United Township boys' basketball team could have had plenty of extra motivation to play the spoiler's role against visiting Quincy.
Instead, it was the Blue Devils feeling more at home at the Panther Den in East Moline. Apart from a 12-0 second-quarter run that gave UT a short-lived one-point lead, Quincy set the tone for the bulk of Friday's Western Big 6 Conference contest as it posted a 46-30 victory.
Following Friday's loss, which dropped the Panthers to 11-17 and 4-8 in Big 6 play, dashing their hopes of at least breaking even in the first season of the conference's 14-game schedule, UT coach Ryan Webber was, to say the least, disenchanted with his club's play.
"I thought it was a very zombie-like performance," Webber stated. "It was a very timid performance at both ends. This is an unforgiving league to compete in, especially when you play timid. These coaches are too competitive to enjoy seeing this, no matter where you play. It's just not acceptable.
"We've got a bunch of competitive coaches who would all agree that we'd like to see them start taking on our personality on the court."
Things started out shakily for the Panthers as Quincy senior guard Lucas Reis scored seven of his 13 points in the opening quarter, staking the Blue Devils to a 12-2 lead as they reeled off 12 straight points after UT's Jaylin Rose scored the game's opening bucket.
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However, the Panthers found their second wind in the second quarter. Sparked by 3-pointers from Davian Vallejo and Izaya Bustos, United Township battled back to within three before a steal and bucket by Rose made it a 15-14 game.
After Rose's basket, a Quincy technical foul put Bustos at the line, and he hit both shots to cap UT's 12-0 run and give it a 16-15 lead. However, a pair of Adonte Crider buckets enabled the Blue Devils to take a 19-16 lead into halftime.
"We got in some foul trouble in the second, and that started their momentum," said Reis. "Defense was our main focus for the second half. They hit those 3s from the corner to get them going. If we stopped that and took away the middle, we'd be just fine."
Sparked by a pair of 3-pointers from 6-foot-5 sophomore Jeremiah Talton (12 points, six rebounds) and the efforts of Reis, who added five steals and five rebounds, and Crider (11 points, eight rebounds, three steals), Quincy rattled off seven straight points to open the third period.
The Panthers were able to hang around, closing the gap to 29-21 on a Daslah Geadeyan 3-ball, but a four-point flurry by Reis in the final 12 seconds of the third had the Blue Devils (16-10, 8-4) up 37-23, and they never looked back.
"We didn't play with any kind of multiple effort; if the ball changed sides of the floor, we didn't come out to play defense at a high level," said Webber, who got 10 points from Bustos, with Vallejo adding six rebounds and three steals and DeVontay Wright five boards.