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GIBSON CITY – The Falcons’ bid to equal its win total from last year fell short Tuesday, as Prairie Central put them back into the .500 mark with a 59-49 loss.
A Ben Eads field goal made the score 6-4 in favor of GCMS in the first quarter. That would be the last time the Falcons held a lead, as Prairie Central went on a 7-4 run to end the opening quarter up 11-10.
After Reese Simpson and Nick Retherford each made a free throw and Prairie Central’s Kyler Hoffman buried a 3-pointer to make the score 14-12 in favor of the Hawks, Prairie Central went on a 16-0 run to extend its lead to 30-12. The Hawks went into halftime leading 31-20 after GCMS ended the second quarter with an 8-1 run of its own.
Prairie Central held its biggest lead of the second half at 49-33 en route to ending the third quarter up 49-38. The last five points of the quarter from GCMS would be the start of a furious rally that saw it down by only four points (53-49) with less than two minutes remaining.
The rally fell short, however, for GCMS (1-1), as the Hawks scored the last six points of the game to ice it.
“We had a lot of fight,” GCMS head coach Ryan Tompkins said. “They had us down 15, and we came back and had it down to four. With two possessions, we weren’t able to convert. We could have gotten it down to one possession. I really think we had the momentum there in the last four minutes.”
Addison Bounds scored 10 points during Prairie Central’s big second quarter en route to finishing with a game-high 22 points.
“Defensively, Bounds is whom (Prairie Central) is going to run a lot of things through,” Tompkins said. “Between Reese Simpson and Drake Royal and, in spots, Aaron Thomason, we did a nice job on him. Sure, he had a big game, but we got it out of hands in situations. We made them put it in other kids’ hands. There were some things where, if we were to do it again, we’d maybe do it a little bit different and better, but I thought our kids played with a tremendous amount of energy, effort and fight. That’s going to pay dividends down the road without question.”
As the result of the GCMS defense keying on Bounds, Prairie Central was able to get some outside shots to fall.
Hoffman made three 3-point attempts, including two in the third quarter, en route to finishing the game in double figures with 11 points. Lane Maurer scored nine points, including a 3-pointer in the third quarter.
That was the risk that we were running,” Tompkins said. “We were trying to get the ball out of Bounds’ hands, so they would have some shots from the perimeter, and they did fall. To their credit, they had some kids step up. (Prairie Central head coach Rick) Schertz did a nice job of having Bounds find people and getting people open in space.”
For GCMS, meanwhile, Ben Eads led the team in scoring with 20 points, including 12 in the second half and six in the fourth quarter.
Simpson and Wiley Hasty scored in double figures as well with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Eight of Hasty’s points were scored in the second half while Simpson made a couple of 3-pointers.
Drake Royal and Nick Retherford added three and two points, respectively, to GCMS’ scoring efforts, giving the Falcons five contributors to the scorebook.
“We came out shooting very well (in Monday’s win),” Tompkins said. “We didn’t shoot as well from the perimeter tonight. That’s not anything different – that just kind of comes and goes. Sometimes, shots fall, and sometimes, shots don’t, but we’re going to keep looking for those shots and those takes, and I thought some guys really stepped up and did a nice job of continuing to be aggressive and physical individually.”
The Falcons’ next contest will take place at 7 p.m. Friday against Fisher. Depending on the result of that game, GCMS will conclude its run in the tournament by playing in the fifth-place game at 3:30 p.m. for the third-place game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Fisher’s a rival game. It’s a big game,” Tompkins said. “They’re going to be amped up and ready to play, and we’ve got to get a good practice tomorrow and get a holiday and get ready for Friday.”