David Adam

Beyond the Boxscore: Mom watches Foley's big shot from lobby

Dylan Foley
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 15, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 16, 2018 1:23 am

JERSEYVILLE, Ill. -- Dylan Foley had the kind of night that not even his own mother could love.

Foley, a junior on the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team, missed three layups in the first quarter of Monday night's game against Cahokia.

"It was extremely rough," he said. "I missed three or four easy bunnies that would have given us a pretty good cushion."

When he came back into the game, he missed the next five shots he took.

"I told myself I've got to be better," Foley said. "I can't take it personal when I come out. I'm just playing bad."

Sherri Foley, Dylan's mother, couldn't watch any more and walked out of the gym into the lobby. As the Raiders made their rally in the fourth quarter, Sherri didn't want to ruin the team's run of good fortune.

She might end up watching the next two games of the Mid-Winter Classic from the lobby if her son hits more big shots like the one he made Monday.

The Raiders were trailing 44-43 with three minutes to play when Nick Schwartz dribbled along the right baseline. When his path to the basket was cut off, he found Foley open in the opposite corner next to his team's bench.

Foley had made only two 3-pointers this season, both coming against Pittsfield on Jan. 6, but he didn't hesitate on this shot. His 3-pointer gave the Raiders a 46-44 lead, and they eventually went on to win 55-50.

"I knew no one was guarding me, and I caught it in rhythm and let it fly," Foley said. "I wasn't thinking about (the earlier missed shots) at all. It was a confidence booster. Right when I made it, I turned to the bench and yelled, 'Let's go!'"

"Dylan's three spearheaded us," Raiders coach Kevin Meyer said. "He was getting to the basket (early in the game) but not finishing. We missed eight point-blank layups. He had a few drives to the basket when we put him back in, and even when he wasn't scoring, he was getting a little confidence.

"We talked during a timeout that if you're driving baseline, you have the pitch to the corner available. Whoever is in that corner, it's your job to shoot. You can't hesitate."

Adjusting to the officials

Players and parents of past QND games at the Mid-Winter Classic will tell you not to expect many fouls to be called during games in George Havens Gym.

The Raiders struggled with Collinsville's physical play in a loss on Saturday, and they trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half of Monday's game against Cahokia. On one play in particular, Foley drove the right baseline and was bumped violently by a Cahokia defender. As Foley went sprawling to the floor and the ball went out of bounds, the official didn't blow his whistle, sending the small contingent of QND fans into a tizzy.

Asked if the game was the most physical he's ever played in, Foley replied, "Besides Saturday's game? Yes."

To the Raiders' credit, they persisted in their drives to the basket. Cahokia was whistled for 17 fouls, and the Raiders shot 25 free throws (making 20). QND made just 11 fouls, and the Comanches shot 13 free throws (making 7).

Meyer credited Jonny Bottorff, a junior reserve, with setting the proper tone in the locker room during halftime.

"The whole first half, we were always looking for a call," Meyer said. "Are you going to blow the whistle or not? I thought Jonny was big in the locker room. He said, 'Hey, we've got to quit begging for calls.' That was poignant. It was big for everybody to hear."

The Raiders went to the line 21 times in the second half, with 13 free throws in the fourth quarter.

"We know those refs aren't going to be as touchy as the ones back in Quincy," Foley said. "When (Cahokia was) going ip and down the court, we were complaning about the calls. We can't worry about what we can't control.

"We can't worry about calls. We know that, but us being kids and the fans going crazy, it's hard. You just have to play through it."

Cahokia coach Darian Nash noted the lopsided number of free throws but didn't blame it for his team's loss.

"Looking back, yeah, they got a lot of calls," he said. "But we put them in position to win the game by missing free throws and layups. That's a lot of little things adding up to big things."

Success at the stripe

The Raiders have been much better lately at getting to the free-throw line.

They have shot at least 20 free throws in five of their last six games, making 97 of 133 (73 percent). When the Raiders left Bloomington after the State Farm Holiday Classic, their team free-throw percentage was 62 percent.

One of the big reasons for the improvement is that Nick Schwartz is shooting more free throws. He's made 33 out of his last 35 over a six-game stretch.

In the last three games against Sacred Heart-Griffin, Collinsville and Cahokia, he's made 26 out of 28 free throws. He's made 60 of 72 (83.3 percent) this season.

"Schwartz was just phenomenal tonight," Meyer said.

Mac Little has shot the most free throws on the team. He's made 64 out of 80 (80 percent), and he made all five of his tries against Cahokia.

Getting his shot

Alex Mast didn't play on Jan. 6 against Pittsfield because of illness. He got only mop-up minutes on Jan. 9 against Sherrard and last Saturday against Collinsville, and he didn't play last Friday against Sacred Heart-Griffin.

So why did Meyer have him on the floor with two minutes to go in a tie game against Cahokia?

"The speed of the game was good for him," he said. "Here's a kid who can fly around and give us a chance for an outside shot. I had confidence in him.

"I told him on Saturday before the game, 'I haven't lost any confidence in you. I need you to get your confidence back.' Tonight he got his chance."

Meyer's decision to play Mast paid off. The junior guard, who was 4 for 8 from 3-point range entering the game, hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:47 to play.

Asked about his lack of playing time of late, Mast replied, "I just do what I can when coach puts me in."