By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Had Paige Abell used the number of days or games she missed to describe just how long mononucleosis kept her sidelined, it might not have seemed so significant.
The way the Abell phrased it, though, she gave you the sense it wasn't easy to shake.
"I missed all of December," said Abell, a senior guard on the Quincy High School girls basketball team.
Luckily, it's now January. Better yet for the Blue Devils, Abell is healthy.
The spunky 5-foot-2 guard scored all seven of her points in the first half, added a pair of assists in the second half and had a key rebound in the fourth quarter as Quincy closed its 46-34 Western Big Six Conference victory over Moline on a 16-4 run.
"She sparked us," Quincy coach Demond Dade said. "Paige gave us a good lift right away. She gave us the lift we needed. It helped us out a lot."
It pushed the Blue Devils above .500. Sitting at 11-10 overall and 2-6 in the WB6, Quincy owns a winning record this late in the season for the first time in three years.
"The girls are finally getting the message of playing under control and playing poised," said Dade, whose team led at the end of every quarter. "We were able to extend our lead and keep it. The girls played together really well."
Quincy came out of the locker room at halftime with a one-point lead, extended it to as many as five points in the third quarter and watched Moline rally to tie the game at 30 on Morgan Gerard's two free throws with 1:16 to go in the period.
Thirty seconds later, Regan Wellman buried a 3-pointer from the left corner to start the 16-4 run. Quincy went 5 of 10 from the field and 5 of 8 from the line over the final nine minutes.
"We often lay our will down for the opponent," Dade said. "Things go wrong, they go on a run, they forge a tie and we just lay it down and let them go on and run over us. I told them we have to get to a point where we make that team lay it down. We're going to keep playing, but we have to quit laying it down and giving it up.
"We do that because the calls aren't going our way, because we make a mistake and we're worried about the mistake and not what we're going to do to make up for it. We changed that. Our girls responded."
By doing so, the Blue Devils held the Maroons scoreless for the game's final 4:50. Moline (7-18, 2-6) missed 10 shots and turned the ball over three times in that stretch.
The Maroons turned the ball over 21 times and shot just 27.5 percent from the field.
"It comes down to taking care of the basketball," Moline coach Steve Ford said. "Unfortunately, we didn't handle their pressure."
Well, the Blue Devils did.
Not only did Quincy hold a halftime edge, but it came out and scored the first four points of the third quarter to set the tone for its victory.
"We see it in each other's eyes that we are fired up and ready to go," Abell said. "Even if somebody gets down, we're picking everybody up. It's an awesome feeling to have everybody behind you."