There was a time — not so long ago — when the only question about Quincy's girls' basketball team was how much the Blue Devils would lose by.
Those days are gone. The Blue Devils will host Geneseo tonight needing a win to clinch at least a tie for second place in the conference. Quincy enters play with 16-8, 9-4 WB6 record and riding a six-game winning streak.
"I don't think there is a specific difference," Quincy coach Brad Dance said. "This year the girls seem a lot more fresh at practice and games. We go hard every day but it is shorter duration. These girls have all put a lot of time in during the offseason to improve their game."
Dance guesses it has been since 2008-09 that Quincy has been in contention in the Big 6. Now, the key for the first-year Blue Devils coach is keeping that alive.
"Our eighth graders had a lot of success the last two years in junior high," Dance said. "My current varsity group has had some success — not this much — but we talk daily about improving over all every day. Our numbers are still extremely low and we lose kids to volleyball every year. Once we figure that part out we will see continual growth in our program."
This current team very easily could have won the Big 6 this season. They lost close games to Moline, Quincy and Rock Island, leading late in two of those three setbacks.
The losses early may well have been the key to the Blue Devils' wins over the last few weeks.
"Those close games early that we lost helped us continue to grow," Dance said. "The girls held themselves accountable both in practices and games, and that made practices a lot more competitive and has given us a lot more success in the games.
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"The other thing is I had a friend that's a very good coach come in and help us tweak a few things on the offensive end, and that has been beneficial. Yes, I would like to have had those wins at that time, but playing our best ball this time of year is a very good thing."
UT Hall of Fame grows
The United Township Hall of Fame will announce four new members during Friday's boys' game against Quincy at the Panther Den.
Joining the Hall are Paula Jones, Rick Ramirez, Emily Scott (Buchanan) and Don Sproul.
Here is a glance of the new UTHS Hall of Famers:
Paula Jones (1999-2002): Jones was a standout in basketball and volleyball. She was an All-Metro and All-Western Big 6 selection in both sports and was the Queen of the Hill at the IHSA Class AA girls' 3-Point State Championship. Jones went on to play at Rockford College, where she stood out in both sports.
Rick Ramirez (1965-1969): Ramirez was a standout wrestler was sixth in the state as a junior and then took second place at 133 pounds as a senior. He became the first Panther wrestler to twice finish in the top six. Ramirez wrestled at Missouri and then became a wrestling coach in Sedalia, Mo. He returned to UT in 1974 as a teacher and coach.
Emily Scott (Buchanan) (1996-99): She was a Quad City Times Athlete of the Year finalist in 1998 and then won the award as a senior. A three-sport star in basketball, volleyball and softball, she was also named the Western Big 6 Don Morris Award in '99. She was an all-WB6 player three times in basketball, twice in volleyball and once in softball. She went on to St. Ambrose and Western Illinois.
Don Sproul: He was a member of the UTHS Board of Education for 37 years (1980-2016) and is a huge supporter of the school. He can be seen at almost every scholastic, music and sporting event. He is also a dedicated community servant as well.