QUINCY — At Quincy High School there’s an electronic board counting the number of wins in the program’s history. On Friday it rolled over to 2,018 as the Blue Devils won the 2018 Class 4A Quincy Regional championship, their first since regional crown since 2009.
Unfortunately that feat came at the expense of the Alton Redbirds.
Quincy downed the Birds 57-36 on Friday, holding them to their lowest offensive output of the 2017-18 season. Alton finished the campaign at 16-13.
The Blue Devils improved to 23-4 with the win and now advance to meet Belleville West at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Alton High in the 4A Pekin Sectional semifinals. The powerhouse Maroons (27-2) — ranked second in the final Associated Press 4A state poll — defeated Edwardsville 68-44 on Friday to win the O’Fallon Regional. Quincy was No. 6 in the final state rankings.
The Redbirds hung with the Blue Devils early on Friday, heading to the locker room trailing just 19-17 after a first half where it was hard for either team to buy a bucket.
Unfortunately the second half was a forgettable one for the Birds. The Blue Devils utilized a 9-0 spurt midway through the third quarter to build a 30-20 lead and were up 39-25 entering the fourth and final frame.
They grew their lead to 20 points over Alton at 47-27 with 4:53 to go in the game after a pair of 3-pointers by junior Jaeden Smith. Quincy’s biggest lead was by 25 at 57-32 with 1:17 to play in the game.
AHS hung tough in the physical contest early on. The Birds owned leads of 5-3 and 7-5 in the first quarter. Kevin Caldwell Jr. drained a trey to put them up 5-3 and Donovan Clay’s thunderous one-handed dunk catapulted them ahead 7-5.
The electric atmosphere made it tough on Alton. The stands were stuffed with blue shirts, far outweighing the red ones, and they got quite loud quite often.
When Quincy’s Aaron Shoot nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer of the first quarter, it put the home team up 11-7 and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The Redbirds continued to claw back though. After Ben Amos put the Blue Devils up 13-9 early in the second frame, the Birds battled back. Caldwell’s bucket at the 3:44 mark tied it at 13-13. IT came on the heels of a score by Clay.
Twice more Quincy pushed its advantage to 4 points at 17-13 and 19-15, but again it was field goals by Caldwell and Clay to dwindle the deficit. Caldwell cut it to 17-15 at the 3:10 mark and Clay’s basket with 1:10 to go in the half produced the halftime score of 19-17 in favor of the Blue Devils.
After a basket by Quincy’s Jirehl Brock opened the third quarter, making it 21-17, Alton’s Josh Rivers completed a traditional 3-point play to whittle it to 21-20. That proved to be as close as the Birds could get the rest of the way.
The ensuing 9-0 run by the Blue Devils was capped by a 3-pointer from Jaeden Smith with 4:50 to play in the third.
Clay had a traditional 3-point play at the 4:25 mark to slice it to 30-23 and Charles Miller’s basket at the 3:55 mark made it 32-25 in favor of Quincy.
Unfortunately for Alton it only recorded 3 field goals in the third quarter, being outscored 20-8 by the Blue Devils. In the second half Quincy outscored AHS 38-19.
Friday marked the end of the prep careers of 5 Redbirds. Caldwell, Darrell Smith, Jacoby Jones, Jamal Jones and Brandon Droste made up the senior class.
Caldwell led the Birds with 11 points on Friday before fouling out of the game with 4:12 to play. He and AHS head coach Eric Smith embraced at the bench as he left the floor for the final time in his prep career. He buried his face on Smith’s shoulder as his coach consoled him.
Other Alton players to score on Friday included Clay with 10 points, Rivers with 5, Miller with 4, Malik Smith and Izeal Terrell with 2 each and Darrell Smith, Jacoby Jones and Ahmad Sanders all with 1 apiece.
Jaeden Smith paced the Blue Devils with 19 points, fueled by 5 treys, including going 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the second half. He was joined in double figures by Shoot with 13 points and Amos with 11.