By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
When the Quincy High School boys basketball team beat Rock Island in overtime five weeks ago, the Blue Devils' biggest advantage was their size.
Unfortunately, they will be a little smaller Friday night.
Quincy will be without 6-foot-7 senior center Jason Salrin for the remainder of the season after he suffered a broken bone in his right foot. Salrin originally suffered the injury against Rocky, but tried to play through the pain the last four weeks until it became too much to bear.
"Obviously, we're going to miss Jason," said Quincy coach Sean Taylor, whose team closes the regular season Friday at Rock Island. "We're going to have to replace his production and his presence."
Salrin, who averaged 5.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, enjoyed his best game of the season in the 48-47 victory against Rock Island when he went for 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Blue Devils outrebounded the Rocks 33-21, and Quincy's frontcourt outscored Rocky's forwards 26-9.
It will be a challenge for three juniors -- Connor Mellon, Barnell Thomas and Luka Radovic -- to do that again.
"They're good players, and now they're going to get Jason's minutes," Taylor said. "Hopefully they're going to play a little looser, more relaxed and give us great production.
"They know there are minutes there. Confidence-wise and pep-wise, they're seeing they're going to get minutes. With minutes come numbers, and I think they're going to give us good numbers."
With Salrin's minutes dwindling in recent weeks, the emergence of Thomas and Radovic has been noticeable.
The 6-7 Radovic had seven points and two rebounds against Jacksonville and three points against Rock Island Alleman. The 6-3 Thomas had nine points and four rebounds against Alleman.
"We all have faith in Luka and know he's capable of having a huge game," Quincy senior point guard Martin Kvitle said. "In the end, it's going to be up to him. And more importantly, it's up to us as a whole to bring back the conference title."
If the Blue Devils get more frontcourt production, they give themselves a chance to do that again.
"We have enough confidence in Luka to make a couple of buckets," Quincy senior guard Mason Fairley said. "Forcing them to respect our post players to score in the paint is going to open it up just like it did last time. That was the key."