Two years ago, Jack Quinlevan stood 6-foot-4, and most nights, he was just another player on the floor.
Today, Quinlevan is 6-foot-9 and he’s anything but ordinary.
“He wants to get a scholarship, and he should,” Homestead coach Sean Crider said of his senior center. “And I just told him that I’ll be sending his tape from tonight out.”
Quinlevan scored a game-high 26 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and added four blocks to power visiting Homestead to a 59-46 win over Germantown in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal. The ninth-seeded Highlanders closed the game on a 15-1 run to topple the eighth-seeded Warhawks.
Quinlevan had 6 points in the game-changing run, while junior guard Greg Foster Jr. had 5 of his 12 points in the burst. Homestead (11-12) now travels to top-seeded Kimberly (19-4) for a regional final Saturday.
“We’re a different team than when we started the season,” Quinlevan said. “We’re more sharp, we’re playing harder and just more solid.”
Germantown (11-12) played without leading scorer Kyle Clow (22.9 ppg), who picked up a pair of technical fouls in the Warhawks’ final regular-season game. By WIAA rule, any player getting two technical in one game must sit out the next contest.
The undermanned Warhawks battled throughout, though, and got 11 points and seven rebounds from senior guard Bryce Thomas and 10 points from senior center Ethan Meyer.
“For the majority of that game, the kids that were out on the floor really battled,” Germantown first-year coach Steve Martin said. “I was very proud of them.”
There were 12 lead changes and five ties over the first 30 minutes. Germantown led, 45-44, after two free throws by Meyer with 5:43 left.
But Homestead scored the next 10 points, grabbed control at 54-45 and cruised home. Germantown went eight straight possessions without scoring a point, as Homestead’s three-quarters court pressure seemed to bother the Warhawks.
Foster Jr. began the run with a steal and a dunk to put the Highlanders ahead for good at 46-45. Quinlevan followed with six straight free throws, and Foster Jr. made two more foul shots with 58.6 seconds left as Homestead’s lead ballooned to 54-45.
Homestead had struggled from the free-throw line much of the season. But on this night, the Highlanders drilled 22-of-29 foul shots (75.9 percent), including an 11-of-14 effort from Quinlevan (78.6 percent).
“Jack’s a pick and pop guy and can score in the paint and has a really nice touch,” Crider said of Quinlevan. “I don’t think his long-term future is even close to being written.”
Homestead looked like it might run Germantown out of the gym early. The Highlanders picked apart the Warhawks’ man-to-man defense, raced to a 7-0 lead and forced Germantown to switch to a 2-3 zone.
The move worked like a charm, as Germantown answered with the next 9 points and surged to a 9-7 advantage. After that, neither team led by more than 4 points the rest of the first half.
In fact, there were seven lead changes in the first half alone, and Homestead was clinging to a narrow 29-25 edge at the break.
Before the game, Martin had written the word “Believe” at the top of the Warhawks’ “to-do list.” And even without Clow, Germantown was right in the game.
“We kind of joked before the game that probably the people that are sitting here in this room are probably the only ones who believe,” Martin said. “I’m really proud of them.”
Homestead quickly extended its lead to 31-25 early in the second half. But Germantown senior point guard Randy Johnson hit a pair of 3-pointers, and senior forward Colin Lindwall hit another triple to key a 9-0 run that gave the Warhawks a 34-31 lead.
Germantown was still clinging to a 45-44 lead when Homestead cranked it up several notches and played its way into the regional final.
“With this being a conference game, you knew it was probably going to be a grinder no matter what,” Crider said. “But give credit to those (Germantown) kids. Kids stepped up to the plate and made it a ball game.
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well as wanted to,” Crider said. “But we’ve been preaching that if we’re going to win games, we have to do it at the free-throw line and we did that.”
Crider called the Highlanders a performance “a C, maybe a C-plus,” and knows his team will have to be much better to upset top-seeded Kimberly.
“We’re feeling good,” said Quinlevan, whose 26 points were the second-most of his career. “It’ll be a huge crowd, loud atmosphere. It’s going to be fun.”
Especially if the Highlanders big man keeps on rolling.