It started before the advent of the four-class system in Illinois, but the postseason rivalry between the Quincy High School and Alton boys basketball teams over the past 12 years has blossomed into a memorable to and fro.
Friday night was the latest chapter in keeping the rivalry stoked.
Quincy made amends for back-to-back losses to the Redbirds in regional play with a bruising, physical, attack-the-rim attitude in the second half of a 57-36 victory at Blue Devil Gym. Quincy led 19-17 at halftime, but scored 20 points in the third quarter and never relinquished the lead.
It was the Blue Devils' first regional title since 2009 and the third time they've beaten the Redbirds in regional play at Blue Devil Gym since 2006.
Here's a look at the postseason meetings between Quincy and Alton:
2006 -- Class AA regional at Quincy -- Quincy 60, Alton 59
2007 -- Class AA sectional at Springfield -- Quincy 58, Alton 48
2013 -- Class 4A regional at Granite City -- Alton 51, Quincy 49 (overtime)
2014 -- Class 4A regional at Quincy -- Quincy 64, Alton 48
2016 -- Class 4A regional at Alton -- Alton 66, Quincy 62
2017 -- Class 4A regional at Granite City -- Alton 53, Quincy 43
2018 -- Class 4A regional at Quincy -- Quincy 57, Alton 36
Smith piles up treys
When Jaeden Smith made the first shot of the game -- a 3-pointer from the right wing 18 seconds after the opening tip -- it seemed like he was locked in and ready for an explosive shooting performance.
Then he missed his next five shots.
The Quincy junior guard had just three points at halftime as the Blue Devils clung to a 19-17 lead after going 6 of 23 from the field overall. In the locker room at halftime, he was told to keep shooting -- by everyone.
"I got down on myself," Smith said. "At halftime, I had my teammates there and my coaches there encouraging me. I felt like I was even more in rhythm in the second half."
For a while, he couldn't miss. Smith jumpstarted his second-half surge by hitting a pull-up jumper as part of a 10-3 run in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Smith capped the run with a 3-pointer from the left corner that forced Alton to call a timeout trailing 30-20. He proceeded to hit three more 3-pointers in succession as he finished with a game-high 19 points.
He was 5 of 10 from 3-point range, marking the third time this season he's made five or more treys. He made eight -- the second most in school history -- against Chicago Dunbar and seven against United Township. In his last five games, Smith is 19 of 37 from 3-point range, which is a 51.4-percent clip.
Smith was the first of Quincy's starters to be pulled with around two minutes remaining in regulation and the victory conceded. Alton had gone to its bench, too. As Smith reached the sideline, he and QHS coach Andy Douglas enjoyed a long embrace.
"It was super special," Smith said. "I love Coach Douglas and everyone on the coaching staff. They are always encouraging me, no matter what happens throughout the season. They're always there for me. Even after I graduate, although I have one more year, I know they are always going to be there for me just as a person."
The other starters were able to do the sae thing in the moments that followed. It was quite emotional for them, too.
For the three senior starters -- Aaron Shoot, Ben Amos and Collin Tenhouse -- this was their last game at Blue Devil Gym.
"It's bittersweet," Shoot said. "To look around the gym and know you're never going to play another game here, I'm not going to lie, it's tough. This has been like a second home for me for the last four years. Heck, the last six years. I've dreamed about being a Blue Devil since I was a little kid.
"So it's bittersweet, but at the same time, you have that feeling of contentment that we did what we came here to do."
Cleaning the glass
Quincy won the rebounding battle 35-28, but only three starters grabbed boards. That's because two of them, along with senior swingman Jacob Ary coming off the bench, gobbled up every miss.
Jirehl Brock finished with 11 rebounds, Amos had nine and Ary had eight. Brock also had four assists, Amos added 11 points and Ary drew two charges.
Yet, their work on the boards stood out. Alton had just two offensive rebounds in the first half and three in the second half, scoring just two second-chance points overall. Quincy had 10 offensive rebounds and eight second-chance points.