By TERRY DUCKETT
Special to The Herald-Whig
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- Quincy High School girls basketball coach Demond Dade wasn't worried about his team's record in the Western Big Six Conference.
He still believed the Blue Devils could win a conference title and knew a win Thursday night against first-place Rock Island would be a big step.
It's a bigger step than the Blue Devils could take.
Quincy stumbled at the start, falling behind 7-0 as the Rocks rolled to a 68-48 victory.
"The girls were excited for the opportunity to come here and win," Dade said. "We put ourselves in position to score as much as (Rock Island) did, but we missed a lot of easy bunny shots."
Defensively, the Blue Devils (9-7, 1-4 WB6) were aggressive, forcing the Rocks (17-2, 5-0) into 23 turnovers.
But it was the Blue Devils' offense that struggled. Rocky defenders were focused on stopping the senior duo of center Jordan Fletcher and guard Arai'ya Dade. Fletcher shook loose in the second half, scoring eight of her team-high 13 points, but Dade was held to just eight points on 4-of-19 shooting, although she did add six rebounds and four steals.
Hannah Reller added seven points, five boards and three steals. Angel Bradford added 10 points off the bench.
"They were part of the group that was missing their shots," Demond Dade said. "We were where we wanted to be on defense, but offensively, we couldn't get in a groove."
To illustrate that point, Dade pointed to how the Rocks built their 31-17 halftime lead.
"It was 31-17, and they had five 3-pointers," he said. "If only we could've taken those away."
Rock Island used its 3-point shooting to go up 19-6 after the first quarter en route to its 14-point halftime edge. In the second half, the Rocks' inside game took over, led by a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore center Mercedes Jackson.
Jackson scored 10 of her points in the third quarter to make sure Quincy never got back within single digits. The closest the Blue Devils got was 12 points as Rocky worked its way to a 55-32 lead entering the fourth period and moved halfway to a second straight league crown.
"We were excited about this being a conference game," Jackson said. "Down at Bloomington-Normal (for the State Farm Holiday Classic), all I could think about was conference. I think we all wanted to go home and finish up conference play."