By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Mason Fairley wasn't the only Quincy High School boys basketball player to have an ice bag taped to a body part Friday night.
Nor will he be the only one relishing the break Quincy coach Sean Taylor is giving the Blue Devils on Saturday morning.
Following a physical, intense 54-51 victory over Galesburg at Blue Devil Gym, Taylor canceled the usual hour-long shootaround the Blue Devils typically have to get them prepared for the backend of a weekend doubleheader. A little extra rest should be beneficial.
"I don't know if tired is the right word," Fairley said of how the Blue Devils felt after outscoring the Silver Streaks 19-14 in the fourth quarter to remain unbeaten in Western Big Six Conference play. "Maybe relieved is more what I would say."
The Blue Devils had a variety reasons to feel that way.
One, they held WB6 scoring leader Grant Gibson seven points below his season average and to just two points during the first 7 minutes, 52 seconds of the fourth quarter.
Two, they kept an aggressive rebounding team off the boards, outrebounding the Silver Streaks 33-23.
Lastly, they persevered when leading scorer Martin Kvitle struggled. The senior guard scored just 10 points, but the Blue Devils had three other players in double figures and shot 52.8 percent from the field (19 of 36).
"We came in with a game plan and we executed," said Fairley, who led Quincy with a season-high 12 points. "That was a legitimate win. That was a tough, hard-fought battle. We showed some guts."
The Blue Devils (5-1, 2-0 WB6) also showed some toughness.
Gibson, the 6-foot-3 Galesburg sophomore forward, came in averaging 26.4 points per game and shooting 52.8 percent from the field. With
Fairley draped all over him and the Blue Devils collectively giving Fairley support, Gibson struggled.
He finished with 19 points, but he made just 7 of 16 field-goal attempts, took just four shots in the fourth quarter and couldn't rally the Silver Streaks (4-4, 1-1) from an eight-point deficit in the final two minutes.
"I think Fairley was unbelievable," Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds said. "He played as well defensively as I've seen any kid all year."
Quincy's defense turned the tide.
The Blue Devils trailed 37-35 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Silver Streaks were held to just one field goal on their first eight possessions of the final period. Before Gibson scored on a 16-footer with 2:23 remaining, Quincy had gone on a 12-2 run with three players scoring and two others with assists.
Twice, senior forward Jason Salrin scored layups in transition, and Kvitle used his left hand to score off back-to-back drives to the rim.
"I'm sure Martin is a little disappointed with his point production," said Taylor, noting his senior point guard finished with 10 points, 11 below his season average. "But he kept battling. He kept getting the ball to the right place. He kept us in the game."
The Blue Devils hit just enough free throws to close it out.
A 70-percent shooting team through its first four games, Quincy made just 56 percent (14 of 25) of its free throws. However, in the final 1:57, the Blue Devils were 7 of 10 from the line with Fairley going 4 of 4.
"I thought both teams competed like crazy," Taylor said. "I don't think it was the prettiest high school basketball game, but I thought it was the most competitive game. Neither team was giving an inch."