GCMS boys basketball gets revenge for tournament loss with win over Ridgeview

By Ross Brown 
COLFAX -- Bryce Barnes had 20 points and Ryland Holt had 11 as the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Falcons avenged their conference tournament title loss to Ridgeview by defeating the Mustangs 48-32 on Friday night at Colfax.
“Our guys kind of locked in after last Friday’s loss at Dee-Mack,” head coach Ryan Tompkins said. “We knew we did not play well. We knew there were some things that we had to improve at, and the only thing you can drag away from a loss is the opportunity to get better. Our guys did that for this week.”
Initially, it did not look like a promising start for the Falcons, who mishandled the opening tip and were down 5-0 early, but took the lead after calling a timeout.
After taking a 16-11 lead into the second quarter, GCMS struggled on offense. Three cross-court passes were stolen by Ridgeview players mid-quarter, necessitating another timeout. Both teams slugged it out the rest of the quarter, with the Falcons eventually taking a 27-20 lead into the halftime locker room.
But despite the Falcons’ first-half struggles, the second half was flipped almost entirely. GCMS outscored Ridgeview 16-5 in the third quarter on their way to the 16-point win.
Other Falcons in the scoring column included Mitch McNutt (8), Connor Birky (5) and Ben Freehill (4). With the win, GCMS reached the 20-win mark for the second straight season while improving to 9-1 and still in sole possession of first place in the regular season conference race.
Justin Myers led Ridgeview with 20 points, but was the only Mustang to reach double figures. Jacob Donaldson (6), Matthew Nunamaker (4) and Levi Zimmerman (2) also added to the Mustangs’ point tally. Ridgeview fell to 20-4 overall and 7-3 in HOIC play. 
Tompkins said that he focused on simply playing the game without worrying about any distractions.
“We talked about letting it go,” he said. “Letting it fly. Use your athletic ability. Use your strength. Cause havoc. Cause problems. Ryland was able to fly around a little bit.”
“I thought our guys did a great job of executing our defensive plan and to get stops,” he said. “They made big defensive plays but we were able to respond and get it down to the other end of the floor. I thought our shot selection was good outside of a stagnant second quarter where we settle for some perimeter shots. Got a couple to drop, but overall more of doing what we did on Tuesday and did a much better job in the second half of moving the basketball, finding the open man and attacking the basket.”
GCMS shot 48 percent from the field, while holding Ridgeview to just 23 percent.
“It was a team effort defensively, but obviously Bryce drew the assignment on Jacob Donaldson who was averaging 19 (points) coming in; he’s been a tremendous player for a long time, still has some games left as a senior,” Tompkins said. “Bryce did a good job executing. Our help from the other guys in the rotation was very good defensively, and from what we were doing with the ball screen. We had to guard and understand our keys, and the guys did and executed. In all five areas we did what we wanted to do on the defensive end.”
Tompkins also credited his team’s ability to face down the Mustangs’ offense.
“We always try to stress the fact of ‘take what the defense gives you,’” he said.  “Make and effort to get the ball inside. We thought that could be an area where we could get some easy looks, and we knew would be moving the basketball well and were able to swarm around a lot of those double teams. When they would flurry at us, Ryland made those double plays out of it.”
Friday night’s game marked the third straight season in which the Falcons and Mustangs have faced each other three times. This season, GCMS went 2-1 by winning the Monticello Holiday Hoopla title game in December and Friday’s game. Ridgeview defeated GCMS two weeks ago in the HOIC Tournament championship game.
“You look at it last year, the same thing, they got us all three times,” Tompkins said. “You have to hopefully make some adjustments that work and hope some things go your way.”
“Coach (Rodney) Kellar does a great job; there’s no denying that. His guys played extremely hard. They made some shots, and they probably feel like they missed some shots that they’re normally going to make. We took some chances, and fortunately tonight the ball kind of bounced our way.”
Up next for the Falcons is two weeks of all-home games. GCMS will step out of the conference to face Watseka on Tuesday night, then on Friday night, the Falcons will host Eureka.


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