Prep Boys Basketball

Belleville West's size, pressure overwhelm Blue Devils

Jirehl Brock of Quincy drives to the basket against Belleville West in the Sectional semifinal at Alton High School on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. | Photo for The Herald-Whig by Paul Baillargeon
Paul Baillargeon
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 7, 2018 12:40 am

ALTON, Ill. -- Joe Muniz's concerns were warranted.

The Belleville West boys basketball team hadn't seen many zone defenses this season and hardly anything that resembled the 1-2-2 ball press Quincy High School employs.

"Being a Collinsville guy, that's all I played," said Muniz, now in his eighth season as the Maroons' head coach. "I know what that can do to teams. Our scout team did a great job executing that all week in practice.

"But the big thing was early in the game we didn't have to run against it because we were getting turnovers and getting easy buckets in transition."

The Maroons were frustrating the Blue Devils with pressure unlike any they had seen.

Quincy committed 20 turnovers in the 66-33 loss Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Class 4A Pekin Sectional. Belleville West turned those miscues into 34 points while limiting Quincy to just 17 points through the first three quarters.

The Blue Devils (23-5) shot just 28.9 percent from the field in their worst postseason loss since a 71-36 loss to Champaign Centennial in 1984.

"This is a different level of defense than most teams that we see," Quincy coach Andy Douglas said. "From the time we got the ball in to the time we either got a shot up or turned it over, we had pressure on us."

Leading 6-4 midway through the first quarter, the Maroons (28-2) went on a 19-0 run in which they forced six turnovers and converted five into points, including an E.J. Liddell dunk in transition and a Jaylin Mosby 3-pointer to cap the run.

"I thought our eyes were big, almost like they were when we saw Webster Groves," Douglas said. "You talk to them and talk to them and talk to them and try to pump their heads up, but they're high school kids. There's that moment when they were in awe of what was going on."

The Blue Devils hadn't seen such a combination of size -- Liddell is 6-foot-7, Keith Randolph Jr. is 6-5 and Malachi Smith is 6-3 -- and quickness like that from any opponent this season.

"We weren't used to that type of athletic, long defense," Quincy junior guard Jirehl Brock said. "They played it really well."

It made Aaron Shoot less of a factor. The senior point guard led Quincy with seven points, but he attempted just two shots in the first half and couldn't find ways to get to the basket to create for his teammates.

"To be able to take Shoot out of the equation is impressive," Douglas said. "Not too many teams have been able to do that, and they did."

Shoot tried to instill a fight in the Blue Devils until the end, but by the time he walked off the court midway through the fourth quarter, there was no hope for a comeback.

"When I got subbed out, that's when the fight stopped," Shoot said. "You fight until you don't have the opportunity anymore."