By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- Rock Island boys basketball coach Thom Sigel realizes not every senior who starts on Senior Night gets noted as a shooter, scorer or playmaker in the opposing team's scouting report.
That makes them dangerous.
Friday night, it made Jacobe Julien lethal.
The Rocky senior drilled a pair of 3-pointers as part of the Rocks' torrid start that led to a 14-point lead in the first quarter and a 61-47 victory over Quincy High School in the defacto Western Big Six Conference championship game at the Rocky Fieldhouse.
"I don't know if he's known as a shooter," Sigel said. "But he can make shots."
Quincy planned to let Julien try.
Wanting to limit the 3-point looks by Trae Babers and Trey Sigel -- two of the WB6's most dangerous gunners -- the Blue Devils allowed Julien to roll off screens and catch the ball uncontested at the top of the key twice in the game's first four minutes.
He didn't hesitate either time, drilling the second one for an 11-4 lead before Sigel worked his standard starting five into the game.
"We were going to live with some other guys taking shots," Quincy coach Sean Taylor said. "When Julien took it, I sort of thought, ‘That's what we want.' We wanted that shot, get the rebound and we could be off. To his credit, he made some big threes on Senior Night."
He wasn't the only one. The Rocks hit their first six 3-pointers -- five came in the first quarter -- as they built a 22-8 lead a minute into the second quarter and took away any hope the Blue Devils had of sharing the WB6 championship.
Had Quincy (16-9, 6-4) won, it would have forged a three-way title for the conference title. Instead, the Rocks (22-4, 8-2) won the title outright, while the Blue Devils end up finishing in third place, a game behind Galesburg.
It was an unexpected and disappointing end for Quincy, which was 6-0 in the league and held a two-game advantage over Rocky and Galesburg just four weeks ago. Since then, the Blue Devils have lost five of six games, two starters and the feeling they could challenge state-ranked Edwardsville in next week's Class 4A Granite City Regional.
"It's tough," Taylor said. "I thought our seniors made a lot of sacrifices. If you look at it, they're not the tallest kids, they're not the strongest, they're not the quickest. But they made so many sacrifices, So had they been able to get a championship, it would have been unbelievable for them.
"Still, I'm proud to go to battle with them. They fight and fight and fight."
Too bad this was an uphill battle.
Quincy managed just two field goals in the first quarter and went to halftime trailing 30-15 as the starting backcourt -- Martin Kvitle, Mason Fairley and Zach Burry -- managed just three points on 1-of-5 shooting. Kvitle, who averages 16 points per game, finished with just three, and Burry was scoreless.
"They're quick and strong," Taylor said of Rocky's defenders. "They sent two guys at (Kvitle), and I think they got into him a little bit. That's what they do. Then us getting down, I think Martin pressed and thought he needed to make more things happen.
"If we're playing with the lead, then I think Martin isn't playing faster than we want him to and he wants to."
Fairley came alive in the second half, burying three 3-pointers and finishing with a season-high 17 points. Unfortunately, he couldn't help the Blue Devils sustain a run.
Quincy couldn't do that, not even when the Blue Devils caught a huge break.
Trailing 41-28 at the start of the fourth quarter, Quincy forced Rocky to come up empty on its first two possessions and cut into the lead when Luka Radovic rebounded a missed 3-pointer, made the putback and was fouled by the Rocks' Rob Johnson.
The officials called Johnson's shove of Radovic an intentional foul, giving him two free throws and Quincy the ensuing possession. Radovic made both free throws to make it a 41-32 deficit with 6:30 remaining, but Babers stole the ball from Kvitle and started a fast break that ended with Trey Sigel's layup.
It ended Quincy's hopes, too.
"It's disappointing," Taylor said.