GCMS boys basketball wins 67-47 in HOIC opener over Flanagan-Cornell

FLANAGAN -- The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley boys basketball team did not show much rust in the early-minutes of Friday’s 67-47 win over Flanagan-Cornell. 
Seven days after 70 percent of the basketball team hoisted the Class 2A football state championship trophy on the turf in DeKalb, the Falcons found a rhythm in the gym. Led by eight different scorers, GCMS (4-1) used a hot start to hold a 21-point advantage at halftime. 
“It was a good win for us,” coach Ryan Tompkins said. “It’s tough to start off in the conference on the road at Flanagan, but the guys responded.”
Tompkins, who tallied his 200th win as head coach, was referring to Flanagan-Cornell’s ability to climb back within striking distance early in the fourth quarter. The Falcons (from Livingston County) pulled as close as 11 before GCMS regained control and secured the victory. 
“It’s hard to shift gears from playing at a hard level, and then having them creep back into it,” Tompkins said, “but, we were able to bring it back.”
The Falcons (from Ford County) played nine players throughout the majority of the game. Junior Bryce Barnes, who scored 23 points, said Friday’s game felt better than their first two games played the day after he and his football teammate’s championship celebration last week. 
“Just like with football, (the more) practice that we get, the better we’re going to be,” Barnes said. “With the football guys, it especially helps that we get out and play tough against good competition and work off the rust.
“We knew this team was going to be tough, but it was to get our legs back under us, so win or loss, it didn’t matter,” he added. “But we were playing for coach’s 200th win, so it kind of made us push a little harder.”
Senior captain Mitch McNutt, who is making the transition from football to basketball season for the seventh straight year (middle and high school) said basketball takes a totally different toll on your body. 
“It’s completely different,” McNutt said. “In football, you do a 10-yard sprint, maybe not even that. Then, you get a huddle to take a breather. In basketball, you’re constantly up and down, up and down (the court). They’re not quick sprints; they’re pretty long sprints. It’s a different kind of ‘in shape.’”
To help ease the players into “basketball shape,” Tompkins said he used the first week of practice to focus more on the different aspects of timing that is required on the court, such as passing, fast breaks, and shot selection. 
“You’ve got to mix in trying to get basketball legs going a little bit, but also trying to rest coming off of a very physical two weeks of football,” Tompkins said. “So, we’re trying to balance that.”
The good news for the coach is that he has a deep enough bench to help ease the players into the basketball season without sacrificing success. Eight players scored in Friday’s win, and that, Tompkins hopes, will be a consistent theme as the calendar flips to 2018. 
“In different spots, everyone can help us,” Tompkins said. “We feel good about our depth and versatility. When you get in the dog days of (the season), it’s good to have guys you know you can go to.
“You’re going to have foul trouble, you’re going to have bumps and bruises along the way, and it’s good to have guys who can step in.”
There is no easing up ahead for GCMS, which plays five more regular season games before Monticello’s holiday tournament to wrap up the calendar year. Four of those five contests are against Heart of Illinois Conference opponents, including Tri-Valley, Blue Ridge, Heyworth and Fisher.


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