GCMS boys basketball wins 74-49 over Heyworth

GIBSON CITY -- The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School boys basketball team entered Friday's game on a 13-game winning streak and with an undefeated record in the Heart of Illinois Conference.
 
The Falcons played that game against a Heyworth team that had yet to win a conference game.
 
Regardless, the underdog Hornets kept the game competitive as they went into halftime trailing only by 12.
 
From there, however, the Falcons outscored Heyworth 24-8 in the third quarter en route to a 74-49 victory.
 
“We have a loaded conference," GCMS senior Ryland Holt said. "To be able to beat a team at home in a conference (game) is big for us.”
 
One day prior to Friday's game, the HOIC Tournament's bracket was released, with GCMS earning the top seed.
 
“That’s a big confidence boost for us," Holt said. "We have a loaded conference, so to get that No. 1 seed and get a bye is a big win for us.”
 
After going on the road to face the top-ranked Class 1A team in Cissna Park on Tuesday and hosting Deer Creek-Mackinaw the following Friday, the Falcons will begin play in the HOIC Tournament against either eighth-seeded Tri-Valley or ninth-seeded Ridgeview at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at Illinois Wesleyan University's Shirk Center in Bloomington.
 
“It’s a great thing for our conference to be able to play at the Shirk Center," GCMS head coach Ryan Tompkins said. "It’s an awesome facility. It’s great for the HOIC, and we’re fortunate enough to where we get to play there right away, but we also know that, whomever we play, that’s a pretty good matchup. Ridgeview and Tri-Valley are a couple of good teams, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve got to be able to get ourselves ready for that.”
 
Last year, GCMS placed second in the tournament after losing 53-50 in the title game to Ridgeview.
 
“It’s going to be a fun one," Barnes said. "I can’t wait.”
 
***
Holt scored 10 points during the third quarter, including an alley-oop dunk via a lob pass from fellow senior Connor Birky that extended GCMS's lead to 61-33 with 1:17 left in the third quarter.
 
Although it was not the first execution of the alley-oop dunk from Birky to Holt -- the first of them took place during the championship game of the Sages Holiday Hoopla in Monticello on Dec. 28 against Paxton-Buckley-Loda -- it was the first such connection on GCMS's home floor, according to Holt.
 
“That was a big one for us,” Holt said.
 
A Heyworth turnover led to GCMS's first third-quarter score as senior Bryce Barnes made two free throws with 6:02 left in the third quarter. A Holt basket extended the Falcons' lead to 43-27.
 
After Alex Cliento made a 3-pointer for Heyworth (7-11, 0-7), GCMS (15-2, 6-0) went on an 11-0 run.
 
"We picked it up in the second half and made shots and kind of busted the lead open,” Barnes said. "It was a good win. We moved the ball pretty well."
 
Holt converted on a three-point play with 5:01 left in the third quarter before draining a 3-pointer. Another trey by senior Connor Birky extended GCMS's lead to 52-30 before a Holt steal led to a fastbreak layup by Birky that made the score 54-30 with 3:03 remaining in the quarter.
 
Cliento made a 3-pointer to end the run, but GCMS went on another spurt from there, scoring seven straight points. The run was capped by Holt's alley-oop dunk.
 
Prior to the dunk, Holt assisted Barnes on a two-point basket and Birky made a 3-pointer. Heyworth's Colin McCubbins and GCMS's Cade Elliott exchanged two-point field goals to make the score 63-35 at the end of the third quarter.
 
“We really came out in the second half and did a great job," Tompkins said. “In the second half, we really started to play in-sync a little bit. We got some stops. We were able to push the ball a little bit and then hit some shots and attack their zone. It was a really great effort by our guys across the board in that second half. It was a great team effort.”
 
***
Nineteen seconds after the game's tipoff, Holt convered on a three-point play. Barnes then made two free throws with 7:02 left in the first quarter to extend GCMS's lead to 5-0 after a backcourt steal by the Falcons' defense. 
 
Another backcourt steal by Ben Freehill did not lead to any points.
 
“We tried to create some pressure and try to get some easy (baskets). We were getting some opportunities, but they were contesting them. Heyworth played hard and just kind of stayed with it," Tompkins said. 
 
After another steal by Caleb Bleich on Heyworth's ensuing possession, Bleich missed a jump shot. 
 
Steven Bobsin made a 3-pointer for Heyworth with 6:43 left in the first quarter, but the Hornets would be held scoreless for the next four minutes before two free throws by Gavin Hicklin cut Heyworth's deficit to 17-5. The Hornets' next field goal would not be scored until 1:40 later when Grant McMahill scored on a layup to make the score 22-7.
 
"Defensively, we played really well," Barnes said. “Our coach really stresses our defense and walling up."
 
Following Bobsin's 3-pointer, Barnes made a trey of his own before Bleich scored on a driving layup, Barnes tallied two points on a reverse layup and Holt drilled a two-point basket and a 3-pointer to make the score 17-3.
 
Hicklin's free throws were followed by a 3-pointer by Birky with 1:25 left in the first quarter and a basket by Lane Short off the bench via a Bleich assist to extend GCMS's lead to 22-5.
 
"We did get in some foul trouble, but our bench came in and did a great job of sustaining the energy and getting enough stops and enough good looks at the rim.”
 
***
The Hornets wasted little time en route to cutting their 15-point first-quarter deficit as Tazden Eller made two 3-pointers to make the score 22-13 early in the second quarter.
 
“Heyworth had hit some shots," Tompkins said. "They have that capability. They can stretch out. They’ve got a lot of shooters and they get to the free-throw line.”
 
After Barnes made a free throw with 7:05 left in the second quarter and drained a 3-pointer to extend GCMS's lead to 26-13, a basket by Heyworth's Eric Wills made the score 26-15. A basket by Short was followed by another trey from Eller that cut the Hornets' deficit to 28-18.
 
A Barnes basket was followed by two free throws from Hicklin with 4:02 left in the second quarter. After Nathan Garard made two free throws with 4:14 left in the second quarter, Holt converted on a three-point play 26 seconds later to extended GCMS's lead to 35-20. Bobsin then made a 3-pointer before Birky tallied a basket to make the score 37-23.
 
McCubbins made 4-of-4 free throws, with a basket from Barnes in between, to cut the Hornets' deficit to 39-27 at halftime.
 
“We kind of started out slow," Barnes said. "Their 2-3 (zone) kind of slowed us down." 
 
“We thought it was a little too close for comfort going into halftime," Holt added.
 
***
After McCubbins made two free throws with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter, teammate Nic Bradshaw was ejected from the game as he was called for a flagrant foul for shoving Short to the floor.
 
“You’ve just got to stay focused and do your job and play with poise. That’s all you can do, and I thought our guys responded well and kept a good mentality through that," Tompkins said.
 
Short missed both of his free-throw opportunities, but a couple of offensive rebounds on GCMS's ensuing possession led to Jordan Blake making a foul shot to make the score 64-37 with 7:19 remaining.
 
Two free throws by Eller and a basket by Short made the score 66-39 before Short had to leave the game with an injury with 5:35 remaining.
 
“Hopefully, he’s alright. He’ll ice it over the weekend and do what our trainer asks him to do, and we’ll see if he’s ready to go," Tompkins said.
 
A two-point basket by McCubbins and a 3-pointer by Bobsin cut Heyworth's deficit to 66-44 before Garard made a couple of free throws with 3:33 left in the game. 
 
McCubbins made two foul shots with 3:19 remaining before baskets by Blake and Alex Meece extended the Falcons' lead to 72-46. 
 
Jadyne Ballenger made a 3-pointer for Heyworth before Blake added another basket to conclude the scoring at 74-49.
 
***
Three Falcons finished the game scoring in double figures as Barnes led the way with 19 points while Holt had 15 points and Birky had 13 points.
 
Ten players got into the scoring column for GCMS as Short and Freehill each tallied six points while Blake had five points, Garard had four points and Bleich, Elliott and Meece each had two points.
 
“We had good balance," Tompkins said. "We had a lot of guys hit a bucket here and there when we needed one. We got a lot of good penetration in the paint and created some things, especially in the second half, when we started to move the ball better.”
 
Junior varsity
The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley junior varsity boys baskteball team pulled off a come-from-behind victory via 46-44 over Heyworth.
 
The Falcons outscored Heyworth 13-7 in the fourth quarter to erase a 37-33 deficit. 
 
Ethan Garard made two free throws to tie the game at 44-44 with 40.6 seconds remaining before Braden Roesch stole the ball and raced toward what would be the game-winning fastbreak layup with 2.4 seconds left in the game.
 
Roesch scored six points in the fourth quarter en route to a game-total 27 points while Garard made 3-of-4 shots from the free-throw line and Alex Minion made two baskets. Minion and Garard would finish the game with eight and five points, respectively.
 
In the first quarter, Roesch tallied 11 points while Garard tallied two points as GCMS ended the quarter trailing 13-11. Roesch scored three second-quarter points while Minion, Zander Wier and Nathan Kallal each scored two points as the Falcons went into halftime trailing 22-20.
 
Roesch scored nine points in the third quarter while Tristin Roesch and Minion each made a basket during the quarter.
 
Wier, Tristin Roesch and Kallal each finished the game with two points.
 
HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY BOYS
GCMS 74, Heyworth 49
HEY 7   20   8   14  -- 49
GCMS 22  17  24  11  -- 74
Heyworth (7-11, 0-7)
Steven Bobsin 3-0-9, Gavin Hicklin 0-4-4, Alex Cilento 2-0-6, Tazden Eller 3-2-11, Jadyne Ballenger 1-0-3, Logan Wills 0-0-0, Nic Bradshaw 0-0-0, Brock Carlton 0-0-0, Kyle Brucker 0-0-0, Colin McCubbins 2-8-12, Grant McMahill 1-0-2, Eric Wills 1-0-2. Totals 13-16-49.
GCMS (15-2, 6-0)
Caleb Bleich 1-0-2, Ryland Holt 6-3-15, Ben Freehill 2-0-6, Connor Birky 5-0-13, Lane Short 3-0-6, Josh Bleich 0-0-0, Nathan Garard 0-4-4, Bryce Barnes 6-5-19, Cade Elliott 1-0-2, Spencer Meenen 0-0-0, Jordan Blake 2-1-5, Nick Culler 0-0-0, Alex Meece 1-0-2. Totals 27-13-74.
3-pointers -- Heyworth 9 (Bobsin 3, Eller 3, Cilento 2, Ballenger). GCMS 7 (Birky 3, Freehill 2, Barnes 2).
 
JUNIOR VARSITY BOYS
GCMS 46, Heyworth 44
HEY 13  9  15   7   -- 44
GCMS 11  9  13 13   -- 46 
Heyworth
Logan Wills 3-2-9, Connor Moore 0-0-0, Ian Ohler 0-0-0, Brock Carlton 6-0-15, Gavin Hicklin 5-4-16, Eli Dahlhauser 1-0-2, Kyle Brucker 0-0-0. Totals 16-6-44.
GCMS
Ethan Garard 1-3-5, Awstace Grauer 0-0-0, Noah Nugent 0-0-0, Braden Roesch 12-3-27, Zander Wier 1-0-2, Tristin Roesch 1-0-2, Nathan Kallal 1-0-2, Alex Minion 4-0-8. Totals 20-6-46.
3-pointers -- Heyworth 6 (Carlton 3, Hicklin 2, Wills).

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