By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Zach Burry didn't have to time to do anything but catch, set and shoot.
He didn't need to do anything else.
The trigger man on an inbounds play with 2.3 seconds remaining in regulation Friday night, Burry stepped to the 3-point stripe after passing to Quincy High School teammate Luka Radovic flashing to the high post. As the Algonquin Jacobs defense collapsed on Radovic, he kicked a pass back to Burry wide open on the right wing.
All he had to do was catch, set and shoot. Then he had to celebrate.
Burry's buzzer-beating 3-pointer capped a remarkable finish as the Blue Devils overcame their second-half offensive struggles to pull out a 44-41 victory on the second night of the 43rd annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament at Blue Devil Gym.
"You're not thinking about whether you're going to make it or not," Burry said. "You just have to get it off."
Burry was actually the second option on the final play.
Quincy took possession with 9.2 seconds left when Burry cut off a drive by Jacobs guard Chris Orange and cleanly stole the ball.
"I had to get in the way and at least get a hand on it," Burry said. "The worst case was we foul. I was lucky I got all ball and ended up with the steal."
After a timeout by Quincy coach Sean Taylor to set up a full-court play, the Blue Devils
struggled to get the ball into the front court and attack. It forced Taylor to call another timeout with 2.3 seconds remaining.
In the huddle, he designed a play for senior forward Connor Mellon to catch the inbounds pass rolling to the basket. If the Golden Eagles defended it, the second option was to find Radovic at the high post.
"Coach said (Burry) was going to be wide open if we did that," junior point guard Lincoln Elbe said. "And he was."
All that was left was to make the shot.
"I pictured in my head that I was going to get it, I was going to shoot it and I was going to make it," Burry said. "Lucky enough I made it."
It's created a true championship game in the tournament finale.
Quincy (2-0) will face Carbondale (2-0) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, attempting to win the title for the fifth straight year and the 30th time overall. Carbondale, which beat Urbana 76-64 in Friday's first game, has not won the title in three previous appearances.
"We can battle and win as long as we play together," Elbe said. "That's what we've been talking about all this time."
Burry's effort epitomizes that.
He went 1 of 9 from the field and 1 of 7 from 3-point range in Thursday's victory over Urbana. He followed that up by missing all five field-goal attempts and both 3-point attempts in the first 31 minutes Friday night.
Yet, trailing 41-38 with around a minute to play in regulation, Burry came off a screen, ran to the right corner and popped a tying 3-pointer with 53 seconds left.
"That's why he's so good at what he does," Taylor said. "He doesn't let the previous play affect the next play. You talk about wanting all kids to do that, but not all kids do. He's one that does."
Jacobs played for a final shot, whittling more than 40 seconds off the clock before Burry's act of thievery and subsequent game-winning shot.
"He shot those two with so much confidence," Taylor said. "It was fun to watch."
When he released the final trey, his teammates expected it to be good.
"I was like, ‘He's got this. We're going to win this,'" Elbe said.
That was after squandering an eight-point halftime lead.
Jacobs' Ben Murray hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second half and the Golden Eagles outscored the Blue Devils 16-3 in the third quarter to take a five-point lead.
Quincy's deficit grew as substantial as 41-34 with three minutes remaining as the Blue Devils went 1 of 10 from the field in the third quarter and were 4 of 20 from the field the first 13 minutes of the second half.
"We couldn't get anything going," Burry said. "We struggled with defense. We just kind of hung in there and gave ourselves a chance."
Offensive rebounds helped. The Blue Devils were able to grab three offensive boards over a three-possession stretch, leading to free throws each time. They made 4 of 6 attempts to cut the deficit to three points.
Burry did the rest.
"It's pretty awesome," Burry said. "It's better than I thought it would be."