GCMS boys basketball improves to 15-1 with wins over Tremont and Hoopeston Area

By ROSS BROWN
bluehavanaross@gmail.com
 
GIBSON CITY -- The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley boys’ basketball squad extended its winning streak to 14 games by defeating Tremont 63-46 at home on Friday and a 57-45 road win at Hoopeston on Saturday.
 
Bryce Barnes led the way for the Falcons in Friday night’s win over the Turks, scoring a game-high 19 points. Mitch McNutt drained four triples en route to 18 points, while Ryland Holt scored 10 of his 12 total points in the second half.
 
GCMS started the game with a strong first quarter, taking a 22-11 lead into the quarter break. But in a similar situation with last week’s game against Oakwood in the Monticello Holiday Hoopla, the Turks outscored the Falcons 13 to 7 in the second quarter to narrow the lead to three points at 27-24 heading into the halftime locker room. 
 
A dominant second half, led by Holt, caused GCMS to break away from Tremont and finish the night with a 17-point win.
 
Tremont was led in scoring by Logan Pflederer, who had 15 points and was the only Turk in double figures. Brother Landon Pflederer had nine points for Tremont.
 
Head coach Ryan Tompkins said that the team handled the second half well despite a lousy second quarter.
 
“We came out playing so well in that first period and we just have to be able to sustain it,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of those where we come out a play well, make shots. We started to settle for some in the second and they have a couple of good players.” 
 
“Pflederer, their leading scorer coming in, he hit some tough ones and some very off balance shots to keep them in to tie it at halftime. Fortunately, we did some better things in the second half defensively, and really won the game in the second half with our defense.”
 
Tremont came into the contest fresh off of a fourth-place finish in the Williamsville Holiday Tournament, losing to Pleasant Plains and Peoria Quest. Their 10-5 record heading into to Friday night’s game included nine straight victories to start the season, but the team had lost three of their previous four games. Tompkins said that the opponent brought in some fast action to the game.
 
“They’ve got about nine or ten guys that they run out there, very fast, agressive off the dribble,” he said. “For the most part, they’re effective at that but we had a good stretch there in the third quarter and early fourth quarter to get ourselves a comfortable lead and then make free throws down the stretch. They take away a lot of things in penetration and we’ve just got to crisper moving the basketball.”
 
Tompkins credited his team for taking away some reverses, something that he thinks is a preparation for future contests.
 
“We saw a couple different things from them that we’ve got to prepare for, that we’re going to see from other teams,” he said.
 
The senior McNutt, who had an impressive football season, has stepped up in the last few contests and maintains his physical integrity. After an average start to the basketball season, McNutt has taken off along with Barnes. Tompkins said that his fitness routine has paid off.
 
“Mitch has gotten his touch again,” he said. “Obviously, he has good reps and a good feel for it, plus with guys playing 32 minutes on the other end, usually he’s got the top player from the other team on the perimeter. All the training has made it to where he’s able to take care of himself playing long minutes.”
 
Tompkins credited Caleb and Josh Bleich, who, despite not scoring, came off the bench and played well in the second quarter.
 
“We had foul trouble and with Josh in there, we didn’t have to panic as much because he does such a good job standing in the post,” Tompkins said. “He took care of it, guarding the basketball and taking care of things.”
 
Falcons fend off Cornjerkers
On Saturday night, GCMS held off Hoopeston on the road to collect another win.
 
The Cornjerkers came into the contest with a 10-4 record and a 67-35 blowout of Armstrong-Potomac the previous night, including five three-pointers from Ryan Drayer, who had more than 60 three point buckets on the season before tip-off. However, Hoopeston failed to make any threes until late in the fourth quarter.
 
Mitch McNutt led the Falcons with 19 points, while Ryland Holt had four points and Connor Birky had nine points. Hoopeston was led by sophomore Lucas Hofer, who had 17 points. Graham Eighner (12) and Logan Walder (10) also finished with double figures.
 
“They are a very tough team offensively, but our guys came out and really locked in, especially set the pace at the end of the floor,” Tompkins said after the game. “They struggled for a good three and a half quarters. With the range they have they’re going to get some. We talked before the game not to underestimate their range because they’re going to fire it. Just a great job executing our defensive abilities and sticking with our game plan.”
 
Along with his 11 points on the night, Holt also contributed several blocks to help the Falcons in the win.
 
An impressive play happened at the end of the first quarter. With two seconds left on the clock, Tompkins called a rare timeout to address his team, who had just given up as basket.
 
After the timeout, GCMS ran a sidelines out-of-bounds play, with McNutt passing to Holt, who ended the quarter with a slam dunk.
 
“Honestly, it’s about the first time we ran it, and it worked out perfectly,” he said. “We didn’t really have to change things because they were guarding us on the sidelines out of bounds. It’s a great example of our guys executing.”
 
Tompkins talked about Ben Freehill, who had eight points on the night.
 
“Teams are going to guard him and run him off the line a little bit and try to take care of those long closeouts,” he said. “He has a good mid-range, good ability around the rim and then finding people.”
 
On another note, Tompkins mentioned Birky, who guarded senior Logan Walder throughout the contest.
 
“Connor had a lot of responsibility with Walder because when he gets in the paint, he’s going to draw some tough things for those guys on the perimeter,” Tompkins said. “When we talk about leaving it on the floor and playing 32 minutes, Connor was the one that was out there and doing everything he has.”
 
Junior Lane Short had an impressive night off the bench, including a layup mid-second quarter.
 
“We’ve told Lane to go out there and play relaxed and do what you’ve done, which means playing somewhat reckless, attack the glass, get second chances, attack the rim. Bryce found him for one and then we had some offensive rebounds,” Tompkins said.
 
Tompkins said that his bench stepped up during their time on the court.
 
“When you look at the effort of Nathan (Garard), Caleb and Josh, more of a defensive type effort but also taking care of the ball and giving us good minutes so we could get into that fourth quarter and have things under us.”
 
Overall, the coach said that his team played well for all 32 minutes of the contest, unlike previous games.
 
“You want to use your legs, get your hands out. You might not get the pass but force a longer pass and get the guy on the backside to get out of the way and run out. That’s where it gets exciting. We had some of those in all four quarters tonight.”
 
Conference test looming
At last Thursday’s seed meeting, GCMS was the unanimous selection for the top spot in the upcoming HOIC Tournament, giving the Falcons a first-round bye and an automatic trip to the Shirk Center.
 
The Falcons will face the winner of Fieldcrest and Fisher at 6:30 p.m. on Monday on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus, where the Falcons have played three straight seasons. Last year, the team finished with a win in the third-place game over Fisher.
 
Before the tournament tips off, GCMS will host El Paso-Gridley on Tuesday night in battle of the top teams in the conference. EPG, which received the second seed and a first-round bye in the tournament, was upset by Eureka, 47-34, on Friday night on the road.
 
Tompkins said that his team is prepared for the challenges ahead.
 
“These guys are excited about challenges, so the more wins you rack up means that you’re going to get more anger out of your opponents,” he said. “There never seems to be a bad amount of attention. These guys seem to handle it pretty well, so you just know that they’re going to get a lot out of their opponents and hope that they step up to the challenge.”
 
He said that the coaching staff is taking a business-like approach to the rest of the season, focusing on that needs to get done.
 
“We definitely go out there and play, really play for each other, and that’s important,” he said. “We know we have a toughie on Tuesday but we need to come out and play just like we did tonight after a tough game last night.”
 
Still, Tompkins remarked that the season is far from over, and that the team has many games to go.
 
“We’re still in the first week of January. It’s okay to win a game while not playing your best.”
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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