Quincy made everything difficult for Granite City on Tuesday.
The second-seeded Blue Devils used an oppressive zone defense to hold the seventh-seeded Warriors to 32-percent shooting from the field (12-for-37) and ran away for a 64-35 victory in the semifinals of the Class 4A Alton Regional.
And while Granite City (14-15) struggled to make shots, Quincy (21-5) dominated the paint as 6-foot-4 junior Parker Bland scored a game-high 15 points and 6-3 junior Garrett Gadeke added 10. The Blue Devils shot 50 percent (22-for-44) and sank five 3-pointers.
“I thought our guys executed our defensive scheme really well,” Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. “The thing is, with this group, we’ve been able to switch some things around within our defense, within our zone, and they adjust game by game and quarter by quarter. I thought they did a pretty good job.”
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The Blue Devils focused on containing senior Kenny Berry and the plan worked as they held Berry to nine points on 3-for-8 shooting. He entered the game averaging 20.
Fundamentally, we just weren’t very good. We’re open, we don’t shoot. We shoot when guys are on us. We try to drive when guys are 5 feet off of us. We dribble in traffic instead of just turning and shooting. We catch the ball and let the defense adjust and get to its new area before we make another pass.
Granite City coach Steve Roustio
No Granite City player reached double figures, while Quincy also got nine points from senior Jake Jobe, all in the first half, and eight from Cameron Gay.
Quincy, seeking its 60th regional title in school history, will play in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday against third-seeded Alton or sixth-seeded Chatham Glenwood, which meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the other semifinal.
“We didn’t do anything. We didn’t play well,” said Granite City coach Steve Roustio, whose team was coming off a 58-53 victory in two overtimes over Collinsville on Monday. “We showed no urgency. We didn’t even get in the right spot to run a play ... let alone score.
“Fundamentally, we just weren’t very good. We’re open, we don’t shoot. We shoot when guys are on us. We try to drive when guys are 5 feet off of us. We dribble in traffic instead of just turning and shooting. We catch the ball and let the defense adjust and get to its new area before we make another pass.”
Quincy already led 30-19 at halftime as Jobe, Bland (eight points) and Gadeke (six points) paced the attack.
But things deteriorated even more for Granite City in the third quarter. The Warriors struggled to find openings, and consequently shots, against the Blue Devils zone.
It’s tough going against any zone when all five guys are playing as one and moving as one. I thought that’s something we did as well tonight as we’ve done in a while. We were able to contest shots. The majority of the shots that went up, we had a hand there. The bigger thing was limiting them to one shot.
Quincy coach Andy Douglas
Senior Mike Dade popped a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 33-19. After the Warriors recovered somewhat on a putback by junior Jaylin Harper and a 3-pointer by senior Ron Allen to get within 33-24, the Blue Devils went on a 14-2 run in the next 5:21 to build an insurmountable 47-26 advantage with 5:41 left in the game.
Five different players scored for Quincy during the decisive drive. Granite City, meanwhile, managed just 16 points in the entire second half and finished with 13 turnovers.
“It’s tough going against any zone when all five guys are playing as one and moving as one,” Douglas said, complimenting his players’ execution. “I thought that’s something we did as well tonight as we’ve done in a while. We were able to contest shots. The majority of the shots that went up, we had a hand there. The bigger thing was limiting them to one shot.”
Bland and Gadeke were a combined 10-for-19 from the field and 5-for-7 from the free-throw line as they tormented the athletic Warriors in the paint.
The Blue Devils got two 3-pointers from Gay and one apiece from Jobe, Dade and sophomore Aaron Shoot, but it was their strength in the middle that dictated the outcome.
“Gadeke stepped up and knocked down some 15-foot shots,” Douglas said. “He was really deliberate in the move when he caught it. And Parker Bland has always been a battler for us on the inside. When you have guys that can shoot the 3 on the outside and also guys that can bang on the inside, it makes it difficult for teams to guard.”
Adding to the difficulty for the Warriors was tired legs after their 40-minute war against Southwestern Conference rival Collinsville.
Senior Tra’Ron Allen, who had 22 points against the Kahoks, had five against Quincy.
“I’ve seen mental fatigue with our guys since the one-point overtime loss to Belleville East,” Roustio said of a 79-78 decision to the Lancers on Feb. 19 in Belleville.
“It’s not like these guys haven’t been resilient,” he said. “We got beat on a last-second shot against Collinsville and came back and beat East St. Louis (on Feb. 23). We’ve shown some toughness, but we sure didn’t after the (Belleville) East loss. We’ve been reeling. We survived (Monday); that’s all that was.”
Quincy was charged with a scant seven turnovers, all but one coming in the first half.