By Jeff Holt
Published January 13, 2022 in The Burg
This big game does not need an introduction. Quincy and Galesburg - tons of tradition and plenty of rim-to-rim action.
"I get asked a lot who is your rival and it is hard to pick just one," said Blue Devil coach Andy Douglas. "Obviously, with Galesburg and Quincy, we've had a lot of good games in the past. I know our guys will be ready for that.
Last Friday, I traveled to the Quad Cities and saw Quincy rally to a 61-57 win over Rock Island. The Blue Devils (12-3, 5-0) were led by Jeremiah Talton's 30 points as they took sole possession of first place in the Western Big 6.
"Any time you pick up a win at Rocky is massive," said a proud Douglas.
Right after the game, as I was getting ready to leave the Rocky gym, I visited with a die-hard fan from Quincy ... Suzy Harmann. She has been following Blue Devil basketball for over 50 years and - as a 1981 graduate of QHS - was a classmate of the legendary Michael Payne.
"Michael (Payne) is one of the nicest guys that you'll ever meet," Harmann said. "He's a very, very nice guy - always hard working. A good player and an even better person."
Harmann just lit up when asked about that 1981 Blue Devil basketball team, reflecting back on that state championship team that finished with a perfect 33-0 record. Payne and Bruce Douglas were named All-Americans and Jerry Leggett shined as the coach.
"There's nothing better than the Blue Devil Gym on Friday night," Harmann added. "Any nights, but Friday night especially with Western Big 6 games. It's a place of magic and it holds a special place with all of us. The fans, the atmosphere. It's just pure magic."
So tonight (on Friday), just kick back at Thiel Gym and enjoy another classic rivalry with Galesburg and Quincy.
For me, I'll always remember watching the 6-foot-10 Michael Payne on the point of a three-quarter press and Bruce Douglas hitting that pull-up jumper from the free-throw line. Dennis Douglas seemed to be like a tank and the closest thing to Charles Barkley that the WB6 has ever seen.
But looking back on it all, GHS grad Mark "Slim" Brown ('76) helped paint the picture of what it was like playing at Quincy's Blue Devil Gym.
"That was the hardest place to play," said Brown. "They turned the lights out and all you saw was the Devil and a fork with flames comes out. Your chest starts pumping and the fans were just crazy. It was one of the best rivalries that I've played in - just great."
Swanson and his memories with Quincy: Former coach Barry Swanson reflected back on his time as a player and a coach for the Streaks against the tradition-rich Quincy.
As a sophomore, Swanson remembers taking a train to Quincy in 1964 and beating them on their home floor to win the sectional. "Coach (John) Thiel versus Coach Hanks was always a classic matchup," he said.
Then as a junior, Swanson mentioned Galesburg's heartbreaking loss to Quincy in 1965 in the sectional final at the Western Fieldhouse.
And as a senior, Swanson said they beat Quincy in 1966 to advance to the sectional final after they had beaten them at home. "We won despite Dale Kelley being injured in the second quarter and out the remainder of the game," he said.
(As a coach) The Streaks upset in 1980 when Michael Payne and Bruce Douglas were juniors and ranked No. 2 in the state.
In 1983, when Galesburg beat Quincy to end their 64-game home winning streak and clinch a tie for the WB6 crown.
"Coaching against Jerry Leggett and Mike Hellenthal (his assistant) was a challenge," said Swanson. "They ran so many set plays and their 1-2-2 three-quarter press was intimidating, especially when they had so many great players. Of course, so did we. It was always a great game and competitive."
Former Silver Streaks reflect back on their time playing Quincy ...
Eric "EJ" Johnson: Rivalry between Galesburg and Quincy goes back as far as I can remember, beginning with my uncle Rick Callahan in 1964 . I also remember in '79 we upset the #1 team in the nation with Michael Payne and the Douglas brothers.. Then in 1983 we upset Quincy on their home court and broke their 70 game home winning streak. I will say that Quincy and the people were first class in my view as well.
Mark Makeever: Beating them my senior year was the highlight of my high school career. From their tradition, their talent, their gym, their fan base, their mascot and their pregame rituals! This was the ultimate test to see exactly how mentally tough a team you had. You knew it was about to go down. While not much success my junior and senior year at their place. When we were able to match that with our sold-out crowd at our place and beat them (they were ranked second in state and it snapped a very long conference win streak for them). Well, memories of a lifetime. It's still experiences I talk about.
Scott Shaver: The Quincy- Streaks rivalry was great, crowds both home and at Quincy were electric. My senior year Quincy was rated #1 with the Douglas brothers (East Moline #2). We beat East Moline. Great memories!
Mike Tapper: Galesburg and Quincy was always a huge rivalry. Playing at Quincy was always a great experience. The lights would go out and the Blue Devil would run out with his flaming pitchfork trying to intimidate us. Winning at Quincy will always be a great memory!
Quincy and Galesburg rivalry ... from Mike Campbell (GHS '76) Basketball Rivalry Before I got to GHS (i.e. the early ‘70’s): Not sure my dad and I ever made it to a Galesburg vs Quincy game in person, because we couldn’t get season tickets then (folks willed to their relatives after their death!) and week-of-the-game tickets for the Quincy game were difficult to get, but I’m sure I listened to those games on the radio. I believe it was the Galesburg/Quincy rivalry that was featured on a segment of a national ‘magazine’ show called ‘First Tuesday’, I pretty sure on NBC, sometime in the early ‘70’s, which was kind of a big deal at the time and no doubt focused on the rivalry between Galesburg’s Coach Thiel and Quincy’s Coach Sherrill Hanks. Early in Career as a Silver Streak (Soph yr.; 1973-74): I remember my first game at Quincy, which featured two eventual All-Staters: Joe Swedlund for Galesburg (eventually played at SMU) and Jim Wisman for Quincy (eventually played at Indiana University); ‘Swede’ was great and he and the other seniors (Ian Davies, Mark Wilson, et al) allowed me as a (very) skinny (6’7”; 170 lbs.) sophomore to play, gain valuable experience, and mostly contribute some shooting, ball movement and team defense, while trying not to get crushed by bigger, stronger, older players, some of whom (especially at Quincy, as I recall, also played football (or should have!). Wisman was a prolific scorer in high school; I don’t think his stats were that great at Indiana, but he garnered some brief fame there when Coach Bob Knight shoved him onto the bench during a timeout and it was caught by the TV cameras. I remember the Blue Devils having some of the most memorable cheerleaders in the conference and I remember their lights-out pregame player introductions (which were unusual at that time; now they’re everywhere), during which their mascot, a Blue Devil, stood directly under the basket holding a long flaming pitchfork, which looked very dramatic in the darkened gym and threatened to set the net on fire! Senior year (1975-76): I remember hitting the game-winning shot (the only one of my high school career) from the left wing, about 15’ out, at the buzzer to beat Quincy, our biggest in-conference rival, and then getting mobbed by my teammates in front of a roaring (no doubt) capacity home crowd! This win preserved our undefeated record in the Western Big Six Conference at the time and we went on to finish an undefeated conference season that year, the first team to do so in the WB6. (you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org)