By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Jason Salrin had one responsibility after getting position on a Rock Island defender.
He had to catch the ball.
The 6-foot-7 Quincy High School forward did more than that. He scored, too.
Benefitting from mismatches against an undersized Rocky team, Salrin enjoyed a career night, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds as the Blue Devils finished the first half of the Western Big Six Conference season with a 48-47 overtime victory against the league's preseason favorite.
"It feels awesome," Salrin said. "That's breakout game material."
It took a concerted effort by the Blue Devils to get the ball into the post to make that possible. Setting it up started with several long, hard practices as Salrin and 6-3 junior forward Connor Mellon worked to establish themselves as go-to scorers.
"We worked all week in practice on catching the ball first," Quincy guard Mason Fairley said. "They did that and converted."
Good thing they did. Salrin was the only player to make a field goal during Quincy's nine-point second quarter, going 3 of 4 from the field and 2 of 3 from the line. Mellon, who finished with 10 points, split a pair of free throws as the frontcourt scored all of Quincy's second-quarter points.
"With teams we know we have a size advantage, we want to work the ball inside," Salrin said. "Coach tells us, ‘Get the ball to the post and trust them.'"
It's easy to do when they finish. Salrin was 6 of 9 from the field, highlighted by a first-quarter dunk off a nifty shovel pass from Fairley, who finished with seven assists and delivered spot-on entry passes over and over again.
"Everyone was cheating a half-step to Martin (Kvitle), so with a good pass fake you have an opening," Fairley said. "(Salrin and Mellon) were huge. They were getting in front, getting good position and all I had to do was get it close."
Fairley expected those passes to be caught.
"I had to trust my guards and they had to trust me to catch the ball," Salrin said. "We worked well together. (Fairley) likes sharing the ball a lot and I like getting the ball a lot. It feels good."
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