QUINCY -- In an historic gym where the Quincy High School boys basketball team seems able to conjure up some late-game magic, an ugly truth was revealed Saturday night.
The Blue Devils don't always make the last-second shot.
But it was closer than anyone probably thought it would be.
After Oswego's Jack Kahoun drained a 3-pointer from the right wing for a one-point lead with 1.2 seconds remaining, Quincy drew up a play during a timeout to get junior guard Jaeden Smith the ball curling off a screen near mid-court. Smith got open, caught the pass from Jirehl Brock, took a dribble and launched a shot from just inside the half-court stripe.
The shot clanged off the left side of the rim, saddling Quincy with a 56-55 loss.
"(Quincy coach Andy Douglas) is notorious for calling plays that get buzzer-beaters," said Brock, who led the Blue Devils with 19 points. "Jaeden almost made that. I was looking at it and I was like, ‘Wow, that's way left.' Then it almost went in. Almost."
Moments earlier, a pass that almost went of bounds but somehow was saved changed the closing seconds.
Fouled with 16 seconds left, Smith split a pair of free throws to give Quincy a 55-53 lead. Without calling timeout, Oswego worked the ball into the frontcourt swung the ball right to left around the perimeter.
Sophomore guard Cal Hejza lofted a pass to the right corner that looked like it would sail out of bounds. However, the Panthers' Jack Wayne jumped to save it and kicked it back to Kahoun for the game-winning shot.
Kahoun finished with 16 points, going 4 of 9 from 3-point range.
"That's kind of what we've been missing," said Oswego coach Chad Pohlmann, whose team had lost three of its first five games by five points or less. "Just go make a basketball play. And (Kahoun) was johnny-on-the-spot."
So was Wayne, who had the last of the Panthers' 10 assists.
"From where I was standing, I was like, ‘Hey, this is a turnover. Now, we're setting up to knock down a free throw and we're done,'" Douglas said. "It was a big-time play by them."
It was the last of several big plays by Oswego (1-5).
Down as many as seven in the third quarter, the Panthers went into the fourth quarter tied at 40 after going on an 8-1 run over the final two minutes of the frame. Wayne's 3-pointer from the left corner with 20 seconds left and Dylan Engler's putback at the buzzer completed the run.
"Our guys just hung in there and made play after play," Pohlmann said. "Even after we made a couple turnovers, because Quincy is so good at what they do, our guys were kind of resilient. I loved our mental focus. We didn't get too down and we didn't get too high."
Neither did the Blue Devils (3-2).
Coming off Friday night's humbling 34-point loss at Moline, Quincy ended Oswego's run when Lucas Reis hit a 3-pointer from the left corner on the first possession of the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils scored on their first three possessions of the quarter to build a 47-42 lead. However, they scored only one field goal in a four-minute span to open the door for the Panthers, who went on a 9-2 run to take a 53-51 lead with 1:52 to go on Engler's 3-pointer from the corner.
Quincy had an answer. Matthew Schwiete split a pair of free throws with 1:30 to go and Ben Amos hit a shot baseline jumper with 50 seconds remaining for a 54-53 lead.
"I liked us tonight," Douglas said. "I really did. It's tough losing, especially like that. That part of it stinks. I was really proud, really proud of how our guys fought. They did a fantastic job all night of making plays and giving themselves a chance."
They had a chance, even just before the buzzer.
"In a situation like that, with 1.2 seconds left and going full court, all you can ask is you give yourself a chance to knock down a shot," Douglas said. "It was right there. It was about as close as I've seen."
Oswego 56, Quincy 55
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb pf pts
Engler 4-12 3-6 6 2 14
Saunders 4-6 0-0 4 2 8
Hejza 0-1 0-0 1 3 0
Kahoun 4-9 4-4 2 2 16
Wilson 4-12 5-6 6 1 13
Clayton 0-0 2-2 0 0 2
Bell 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Wayne 1-2 0-0 1 1 3
Totals 17-42 14-18 24 12 56
Smith 2-10 7-8 2 0 11
Schwiete 1-2 1-2 2 3 3
Brock 7-9 5-7 5 4 19
Tenhouse 0-0 0-0 1 4 0
Amos 6-11 0-0 7 1 12
Crider 2-3 0-0 3 2 4
Ary 1-1 0-0 0 0 2
Reis 1-2 1-2 1 2 4
Totals 20-38 14-19 22 16 55
Oswego 11 15 14 16--56
Quincy 12 15 13 15--55
3-point field goals--Oswego 8-20 (Kahoun 4-9, Engler 3-7, Wayne 1-2, Hejza 0-1, Wilson 0-1), Quincy 1-10 (Reis 1-2, Smith 0-7, Brock 0-1). Assists--Oswego 10 (Hejza 3), Quincy 7 (Smith 3). Steals--Oswego 7 (Engler, Hejza 2), Quincy 9 (Brock 3). Blocked shots--Quincy 2 (Amos 2). Turnovers--Oswego 16, Quincy 16. Technical fouls--Oswego bench. Officials--Billy Hickox, Steve Keene, John Dearing.