Schuck's Clipboard

Ties that bind: Lincoln, Quincy share similarities beyond tradition

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 28, 2017 9:10 pm Updated: Dec. 28, 2017 9:12 pm

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. -- This is the kind of matchup Aaron Shoot likes.

After dispatching Belleville East 65-46 in Thursday's opening round of the 34th annual Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic, Quincy will face Lincoln in the quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Vergil Fletcher Gym.

The Railsplitters (9-2) employ the 1-2-2 ball press Lincoln coach Neil Alexander learned from former Quincy coach Loren Wallace, who was the head coach at Nokomis when Alexander played there. Alexander has used the aggressive, ball-hawking defense to guide Lincoln to more than 600 victories since 1991 and a second-place state finish in 2014.

"One of my favorite things is playing against a good zone," said Shoot, the Blue Devils' senior point guard. "I like playing against challenging defenses and trying to figure out and dissect the zone. That's one of my favorite things. I look forward to playing them every time we come here."

It's happened three times since 2010 with Quincy winning twice.

The Blue Devils upset the top-seeded Railers 62-54 in double overtime in the 2010 quarterfinals. Lincoln returned the favor in the 2014 quarterfinals, winning 49-27. In 2015, the Blue Devils won 57-38 in the third place game.

"There's a lot of history between the two programs," Quincy coach Andy Douglas said.

It goes back decades, which has led to a tremendous amount of crossover.

Wallace spent 12 years coaching at Lincoln, guiding the Railers to 271 victories and a fourth-place state finish in 1980. In 1990, he succeeded Jerry Leggett as Quincy's coach and won 273 games over 13 seasons, including a third-place state finish in 1998.

Quincy and Wallace beat Lincoln and Alexander en route to the state tournament in 1998. Lincoln returned the favor in the sectional title game in 1999. Douglas played on both of those Quincy teams and has developed a solid relationship with Alexander over the years.

"I've got a ton of respect for that guy," Douglas said. "He's kind of a mentor for me. Anytime I have a question, I can reach out to him and he's going to give me an honest answer. He's going to shoot it straight."

And he's going to play it straight, coaching like he has the last four decades.

"There are a lot of similarities between our teams," Douglas said. "Everybody is thinking defensively, but offensively, too. They do a great job of moving and getting their guys going. We're trying to get to that level where we are efficient like that."

They both have solid senior leaders. The Railers rely on Isaiah Bowers, who is a four-year varsity player who has been a factor since the day he stepped on the floor.

"Forever," Douglas said with a chuckle when asked how long it felt like Bowers had been at Lincoln. "And he's a heck of a player."

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