QUINCY – Alton High’s successful boys basketball season ended much too abruptly for the Redbirds.
They sustained a 64-48 loss to Quincy here Wednesday in a semifinal game of the Blue Devils' Class 4A Regional. Quincy, the No. 3 seed, improved to 15-11 in stunning the second-seeded Redbirds, who finished 22-6.
It’ll be Quincy playing host to 26-2 Edwardsville at 7 p.m. Friday in the regional championship game. The winner advances to sectional competition next week against the Belleville West Regional champ, either O’Fallon or Belleville East.
Granite City is supposed to play host to that sectional semifinal game on Tuesday at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Vadalabene Center.
The Redbirds hoped to get a third game with the Tigers – they split their pair of Southwestern Conference games with them – but Quincy had other ideas. The Blue Devils, smarting from a 57-40 defeat to Alton at the Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout in January at St. Louis, sought payback.
And they got it, though nothing was settled until late in this game.
Alton led 10-9 by the end of the first quarter, but Quincy moved ahead 23-21 at half and led 40-36 after three quarters. It was still anybody’s game at that point.
D’Antae McMurray’s 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining cut Quincy’s lead to 44-43 and the Redbirds appeared to be taking the comeback trail. Yet the Blue Devils wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
They outscored the Redbirds 20-5 down the stretch to complete the upset. Quincy’s Barnell Thomas, who tallied 12 points, scored five consecutive points after the Redbirds closed to within a point.
Lincoln Elbe, Zach Burry and Alex Shoot of Quincy then connected on treys to stretch the Blue Devils' lead to 58-47 with 1:38 to go. Burry led them with 20 points and teammate Connor Mellon contributed 19 points. Mellon made 7 of 9 field-goal attempts.
"Their kids played hard," Alton coach Eric Smith said of the Blue Devils. "They gave us everything we could handle. "We couldn't get enough stops and rebounds."
Junior Darrius Edwards netted 13 points to lead the Redbirds and McMurray pitched in 12 points. However, the Redbirds shot just 36 percent from the field. Top guns Michael Williams-Bey (seven points) and Carlos Anderson (five points) were kept in check by Quincy’s 1-2-2 zone defense.
“We didn’t play on our heels against their quickness,” Blue Devils’ coach Sean Taylor said. “We attacked it and that was the key.”
The Redbirds ended their season with the most victories by an Alton team since the 2007-08 one went 24-7. They won their own tournament and the Washington one. AHS also finished runner-up to host Centralia in the Orphans’ holiday tourney.
In addition, the Birds went 10-4 in the SWC and placed second behind Edwardsville.
"We had a great season and a loss doesn't diminish what they accomplished this season," Smith said.