When it comes to the measurables -- height, quickness, jumping ability, etc. -- Aaron Shoot stacks up favorably with most point guards his size.
It's the intangibles that set him apart.
The Quincy High School senior reminded everyone of that Tuesday night. With the Blue Devils clinging to a five-point lead over Collinsville early in the fourth quarter of the Class 4A Quincy Regional semifinal at Blue Devil Gym, Shoot's will to win was stronger than anyone else. He scored 11 points of his 24 points in the final seven minutes and led Quincy to a 51-37 victory.
"In the last few games, we've had some situations like that third quarter," said Quincy guard Jacob Ary, referencing the fact the Blue Devils scored just four points in that frame against the Kahoks and saw a 15-point lead dwindle to six. "Aaron comes up to me every single time and is like, ‘I'm taking over. It's my game now.' And he does it every time."
Four times in the last five weeks, Shoot has done so in impressive fashion.
Against Webster Groves in the Quincy Shootout, the Blue Devils trailed by 17 points going into the fourth quarter when Shoot scored 13 of his 23 points and eventually but the deficit to one. The Statesmen held on for a 58-55 victory, but Shoot went toe-to-toe with Courtney Ramey, an NCAA Division I recruit, and nearly brought Quincy all the way back. Against Rock Island, the Blue Devils trailed 33-24 going into the fourth quarter when Shoot engineered a rally. He scored six points, had two assists, a steal and a rebound as Quincy outscored Rocky 16-7 over the final eight minutes and won 40-37.
Last week, in the regular-season finale against Galesburg, Quincy led by just five going to the fourth quarter when Shoot scored 16 of his 23 points, going 5 of 5 from the field and 6 of 6 from the line to secure a 51-41 victory and the best regular-season record since the 1999-2000 team.
Tuesday night, he was up to similar tricks. Quincy outscored Collinsville 16-8 with Shoot going 3 of 4 from the field and 4 of 4 from the line. He also had an assist on the only other field goal the Blue Devils scored in the fourth quarter -- an Ary 3-pointer -- and grabbed two rebounds.
He nearly pulled off a double-double, leading the Blue Devils with eight rebounds.
"He's one of the best players in the state and the best player in our conference," Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. "Quincy fans are in for a treat every time they get to watch him play. He flat-out competes. It doesn't matter if it's against one of the top point guards in the country or whoever. He just flat-out competes."
Saving the possession
After Shoot and Ary made consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead back to double digits, Ary had a chance to extend the lead when he sized up a 3-pointer from the right wing. The ball caromed hard off the rim and was going to go out of bounds before Ary sprinted to the right corner, jumped and saved it. He threw it back in to Matthew Schwiete, which allowed Douglas to call timeout with 4:05 to go and regroup everyone.
Shoot proceeded to make two free throws to finish the possession and make it a 43-30 lead with 3:34 to go.
"Schwiete got himself into position to corral it," Douglas said. "I thought that was big."
However, Ary's saving pass wasn't executed quite the way he had envisioned.
"The funny thing about that was I was trying to throw it as high and far as possible," Ary said. "I just got a little line drive, but luckily Matt was there. He saved me on that one."