QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- He wouldn't call it a wake up call but Quincy High senior guard Martin Kvitle says the season opening loss to Carbondale did grab the Blue Devils attention.
Especially after blowing a double digit lead.
A regular Friday morning post-Thanksgiving Day walk through turned into a full fledge practice which turned out to be just what Sean Taylor's group needed.
They answered the call by winning their final two games en route to claiming another tournament title.
Now the challenge is to continue the surge rather than dwell on what was a rather largely positive start to the season in Friday's conference opener at East Moline.
"It was nice to come out here and win the tournament," Kvitle said.
"But as coach (Taylor) said, 'The past three years that we've won the tournament we've come out the sluggish (the next game).' That's our main focus right is not coming off the hangover of the turkey tournament."
Taylor is confident his group will be ready thanks to their veteran experience.
"I think with the three guards, and Jason Salrin, we start four seniors and if they don't understand the importance of the Western Big-6 then it's going to be hard to explain it."
Quincy High's quest to repeat as conference champs, and more importantly, win the league title without having to share it like last season boils down to what they're able to accomplish on the defensive end.
Senior guard Cole Abbey says he and his teammates have a simple approach.
"The biggest key for us is to play as a team, play hard, and don't let them score."
Taylor says stopping opponents is crucial.
"Defense is got to be our calling card," he said.
"I think we have enough defensive pressure with Cole and Mason (Fairley) to put pressure on the guards, and then our bigs can challenge shots and rebound."
Kvitle added, "We'll be able to score but the way we're going to win conference, and games even in March down the road, is going to be defense."
The Blue Devils 10-game trek through the WB6 begins with a trip to The Panther Den where they have had success. They have won two out of the last three regular season games at UT.
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