Schuck's Clipboard

Beyond the Boxscore: Smith regains rhythm against Lancers

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 28, 2017 9:10 pm Updated: Dec. 28, 2017 9:11 pm

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. -- The balky right wrist that is requiring Jaeden Smith to wear a brace when he isn't playing basketball wasn't going to impede his ability to take on Adonte Crider and others in NBA2K.

"Oh, they're going down," Smith said with a wide grin.

Thanks to Thursday's 2:30 p.m. tip and a quick dispatching of Belleville East, the Quincy High School boys basketball players had an entire evening to enjoy time at the hotel and some camaraderie. To no surprise, video games were on tap. So was watching college basketball and prepping for a matchup with Lincoln in the quarterfinals of the 34th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic.

In Smith's case, it's about resting the wrist and staying in rhythm.

The junior guard hit the first shot in the 65-46 victory over the Lancers -- a 3-pointer from the left wing -- and scored the Blue Devils' first eight points. More importantly, he looked more comfortable and more in rhythm.

Smith had gone 4 of 17 from 3-point range in the previous four games, but he was 3-8 against Belleville East and hit two treys as Quincy bolted to an 18-4 lead.

"During the week, a short week of practice, my shot felt good," Smith said. "I was telling Coach it felt a lot better than it did last week. I had been struggling with my shot. It felt really good to hit those."

Smith suffered a sprained right wrist a few weeks ago, and it altered what he could do. Smith went 8 of 14 from 3-point range against Chicago Dunbar during the QHS Thanksgiving Tournament, making the second-most treys in a single game in program history. He followed up the tournament with a 1-of-7 showing against Moline and an 0-of-7 effort against Oswego.

He's just now getting back in rhythm, having gone 5 of 12 in the last two games. Smith will continue to play with the wrist taped.

"I have to keep a splint on it whenever I'm not playing just to manage it," Smith said. "After the season, I'll look at it more closely."


Hit 'em high

As expected, Belleville East threw several different defensive looks Quincy. The Blue Devils adapted effectively to each one.

Most notably, when the Lancers went to a zone, the Blue Devils ran Ben Amos, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, to the high post and turned him into a distributor instead of a scorer. He still led Quincy with 15 points, but he also tied for the team high with four assists.

That also was his season high.

"If they give you that high post look, you can do a lot out of it," Amos said. "Our guys did a really good job today cutting today. They did a great job of getting open, which is something we made a point of doing."

Two of Amos' assists came in the second quarter, the first set up Aaron Shoot for a layup on a backdoor cut and the second allowed Jacob Ary to score on a similar play as the Blue Devils built a 17-point halftime lead.

"When a team like that gets up in you defensively, it forces you to throw in a couple of backdoors, work harder to get open, move the ball and swing it a little more," said Shoot, who had 11 points and four assists. "And when you're making shots, it's a lot easier to be unselfish. You have a lot more confidence in your guys to make that extra pass."

That explains why the Blue Devils shot 59.6 percent from the field.


Familiar foes

Thursday's matchup with Belleville East marked the 13th time the Blue Devils have faced the Lancers at the holiday tournament and the fifth time the teams have met in the first round.

Quincy leads the series 8-5 and has won four of the five first-round matchups. This was the first time the teams had met since 2014 when Quincy won 64-60 in the opening round.

The foes have met twice in the semifinals, splitting with Quincy winning in 1995 and Belleville East winning in 2010, and they've met three times in the championship. Quincy won 75-68 in 1996 and 71-53 in 1997, which was the last time it won the tournament. Belleville East won the title game 45-39 in 2005.

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