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GIBSON CITY – After his team allowed a game-high 22 points to Hoopeston Area’s Mason Layden Saturday, GCMS head coach Ryan Tompkins gave Ben Eads the assignment of guarding the 6-foot-3 junior forward.
Eads held Layden without a point over the last 3:39 of the game and wound up with the play of the game. He intercepted a Cornjerker pass and made a fastbreak layup while getting fouled by Brennan Crose with 59.2 seconds remaining.
The resulting three-point play gave GCMS a 53-50 lead it would not surrender and would turn out to be the game-winning points, as the Falcons beat Hoopeston Area 54-52.
“We talked in the last two days about a person wanting to step up and say, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s make the play,’ and Ben made a great play,” GCMS head coach Ryan Tompkins said. “He did a good job on Layden in the last two minutes. We went to that matchup when they were posting our guards in the last half of the fourth quarter, and Ben did a great job of being active defensively, played the passing lane and made the play in transition. It was a big play at a timely juncture.”
Eads scored seven points in the first quarter, including a three-point play, as the Falcons went on a 9-0 run to start the game and finished the opening quarter leading 11-5. He scored four points in the second and fourth quarters each to finish the game with 15 points.
Hoopeston Area (2-14) erased the first-quarter deficit with a second quarter in which it developed a hot hand from beyond the arc. The Cornjerkers sank four of its game-total nine 3-pointers in the second quarter, including three from Layden.
Layden finished the second quarter with 12 points, including a four point play in which he was fouled by Reese Simpson as he sank a 3-pointer with 4.1 seconds left in the first half. The play made the score 24-20 in favor of Hoopeston Area going into halftime.
“It was a real battle. Their record is a little deceptive because they’ve been in a lot of close games as of late,” Tompkins said. “Of course, with (Hoopeston Area head) coach Matt Colston in his first year, it’s going to take them a little bit to get acclimated. They seem to be playing a lot better. They got their win last night against Armstrong-Potomac. They do a very good of getting the ball into Layden’s hands. They recognize mismatches very quickly and they execute. When you make nine 3-pointers and don’t miss a free throw as a team, you’re going to keep yourself in the game, and they did, of course.”
After only two points in the first half, Wiley Hasty tallied eight points in the third and fourth quarters each to finish with a team-high 18 points.
“He did a nice job,” Tompkins said. “They were switching in their man-to-man defense, and we did a nice job of moving without the ball. We did a nice job of finding Wiley in the backside. This is probably the most minutes he played all year in a game. He did a nice job on both ends. I’m pretty confident that he had a double-double.”
Nick Retherford scored eight of his 13 points in the third quarter, sinking two 3-pointers – including a go-ahead one that put GCMS on top 27-24 – in the quarter. Thanks to his eight third-quarter points, GCMS went into the fourth leading 42-38.
A day prior, Retherford scored a game-high 25 points in the Falcons’ 60-50 loss to Tremont.
“Nick’s really played well this weekend,” Tompkins said Saturday. “He hit some big shots at a time when we needed them. When we were able to get what seemed like a good gap, which is about seven points, he did a nice job. He hit a big 3-pointer in the (second quarter) to (give us an 18-16 lead). We did a nice job of finding him on the wing, and he’s been shooting the ball with confidence in the last couple of games. We were a little bit on fumes there in the end (tonight), but we had enough in the tank to make plays.”
The Falcons (6-9, 0-5 Heart of Illinois Conference) will travel to El Paso for a conference matchup with El Paso-Gridley Tuesday and host Heyworth Friday.
GCMS 54, Hoopeston Area 52
HOOPESTON AREA (2-14)
Brennan Crose 4-0-11, Deono Zamirripa 0-0-0, Joe Warner 0-0-0, David Cornelius 0-0-0, Chase Bouse 1-0-2, Nick Papanek 1-0-3, Mason Layden 6-7-22, Keaton Longest 0-0-0, Trey Anderson 0-0-0, Bryce Leigh 2-0-5, Daniel Lawson 4-0-9. Totals 16-7-52.
Drake Royal 0-0-0, Nick Retherford 4-2-13, Ross Royal 0-0-0, Ben Eads 6-3-15, Reese Simpson 2-2-6, Axel Doran 0-0-0, Ethan Steidinger 0-0-0, Wiley Hasty 7-4-18, Tyler Hinshaw 1-0-2. Totals 20-11-54.
HOPPESTON AREA 5 19 14 14 -- 52
GCMS 11 9 22 12 -- 54
3-pointers – Hoopeston Area 9 (Crose 3, Layden 3, Papanek, Leigh, Lawson). GCMS 3 (Retherford 3).
Tremont 60, GCMS 50
GCMS (5-9, 0-5 HOIC)
Nick Retherford 25.
TREMONT (8-7, 2-4)
Chet Dean 14, Matt Brent 14, Colin Honan 9.
GCMS 28 22 -- 50
TREMONT 32 28 -- 60