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Ironmen upset in Sectional Final, 22-point comeback attempt falls just short

Quincy defeats Normal Community 56-51 in IHSA Sectional Final
Jeff Christopherson

Down 45-23 with 5:48 left to play in the Sectional Final, Community boys basketball’s (33-2) historic season appeared heading for a screeching halt at the hands of the Quincy Blue Devils (28-5).

The Ironmen were not going down without a fight. 

The comeback began with Community scoring 5 points in 20 seconds. After Zach Cleveland (’22) split a pair of free throws, the Ironmen forced a quick steal and got the ball right back to Cleveland for a layup. 

Braylon Roman (’24) stole the ensuing inbounds pass and fought through contact for a bucket, closing the gap to 45-28.

After the two teams traded buckets, Robbie Brent (’23) nailed Community’s first three-pointer of the night with 3:35 left to play, making the score 47-33. 

Seconds later, Crofton Perry (’22) gave the Ironmen their second triple, bringing the game within 11 points. 

After the Blue Devil’s missed the front end of a one and one, Zach Cleveland cashed in on his third and-one of the evening, cutting the deficit to single digits for the first time since the 5:04 mark of the third quarter. 

The Blue Devils’ eight-point lead slowly slipped away as the Ironmen took advantage of Quincy turnovers and missed free throws.

With 9.6 seconds remaining, Quincy missed a pair of free throws, giving the Ironmen possession down 54-51 and a chance to tie the game for the first time since 0-0. 

Trey Redd (’22) pushed the ball up the floor, passing to the game’s leading scorer, Cleveland, who hoisted a three from the right wing with two seconds left.

Cleveland’s attempt to tie the game bounced in and out, and Quincy’s Jeremiah Talton was fouled as he pulled down the rebound.

Talton made both free throws, closing the door on Community’s ferocious comeback and making the final score 56-51. 

For the first time this season, the Ironmen never led at any point during the game. The first quarter began with both teams attempting to find their rhythm offensively.

The Blue Devils played a 1-2-2 zone and forced the Ironmen into eight turnovers in the first eight minutes as Community trailed 11-6 after the first quarter.

Quincy maintained their five point lead throughout the second quarter and hit the locker room up 20-15. 

The Blue Devils came out of the break on fire, going on a 14-0 run stretching six minutes of the third quarter. 

Quincy’s trio of Talton, a University of New Orleans commit, and freshmen Bradley Longcor and Keshaun Thomas all contributed to the team’s run and ended the game in double figures. 

By the time the final quarter began, the Ironmen were trailing 36-20. 

Quincy added to their lead in the beginning of the fourth, before the Ironmen’s 28-11 run, spearheaded by 13 points from Cleveland, who finished with 20. 

While Community’s rally fell just short, the 2021-2022 Ironmen achieved one of the most successful season’s in school history.

In addition to winning the Big-12 and entering the Sectional Final ranked third in the State by MaxPreps, the Ironmen tied the school record for wins in a season with 33.

Quincy, who secured their first Sectional title since 2000, advances to the Super-Sectionals at Redbird Arena on Monday where they will face Bolingbrook.

As the Blue Devils did to the Ironmen on Friday, Bolingbrook upset the one-seed of their Sectional, defeating Oswego East 52-51.

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About the Contributors
Jonah Kramer
Jonah Kramer, Sports Editor
Jonah Kramer is a senior at Normal Community High School and participates in Best Buddies, FBLA and cross country. This is his second year working with the Inkspot, where he is a senior staff reporter. A random fact about me is that my front tooth has been broken five different times. My favorite film is Knives Out. What inspires me is Jesus Christ.
Eli Schneider
Eli Schneider, Senior Staff Reporter
Eli Schneider is a senior at Normal Community High School and in his third year of working with the Inkspot as a Senior Staff Reporter. Eli plays varsity lacrosse for the B-N Lacrosse co-op and enjoys watching baseball, football, and hockey at both the collegiate and professional levels. Eli plans to attend the University of Mississippi in the fall of 2022 and major in Marketing Strategy and minor in Journalism  An all-time dream of mine would be to work in marketing/P.R for an MLB or NHL team My favorite places to travel are Oxford, Mississippi, Dallas, Texas, and Denver, Colorado
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