GCMS girls basketball advances to IHSA Class 2A Watseka Regional title game with 37-28 victory in the semifinals over Momence

WATSEKA -- Nobody on the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley girls basketball team was taking a sick day on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
 
Makenzi Bielfeldt might have been tempted to do so as she still experienced some symptoms from a stomach flu she sustained the previous Monday. Instead, she scored a team-high 16 points to help lead GCMS to a 37-28 win over Momence in the semifinals of the IHSA Class 2A Watseka Regional.
 
“You've got to do what you have to do," Makenzi Bielfeldt said. “I just came ready to play today. I was sick yesterday, so I knew I had to give 110 percent today.”
 
Makenzi Bielfeldt was not the only Falcon feeling a little under the weather, according to head coach Keri Dornbusch.
 
“There are several girls who are under the weather," Dornbusch said. “A couple of them are not feeling the greatest right now, so it was nice to see them still fight through it and get that win with them sick.
 
“It's just going around. Hopefully, we can hold off until the end of the season. Hopefully, we can give them some rest tonight, and a little bit tomorrow, and be ready to go on Thursday.”
 
With the win, the fourth-seeded Falcons earned the right to play in a 2A regional championship game for the third time in five years. They will seek their first regional title since 2005 as they face top-seeded Watseka at 7 p.m. Thursday.
 
“It's exciting. We're coming back on Thursday for the regional championship, and that will be fun for all of us, I think," Dornbusch said. "It's exciting for me as a head coach, and I know all the girls are really excited. It was a goal for a lot of them to do well in the postseason, so hopefully, we can keep going.”
 
For Makenzi Bielfeldt and fellow juniors Claire Retherford, Megan Moody, Courntey Burton and Jenny Patel, it is the second time in three years that they reached a regional title game. 
 
Makenzi Bielfeldt, Retherford and Moody, along with sophomores, Hannah Hathaway, Rylee Tompkins, Emily Clinton and Abby Spiller, all played in the third-place game of the IESA Class 3A state tournament in December 2014.
 
The following year, Clinton, Hathaway, Maci Bielfeldt, Tompkins, Spiller and freshman Ryleigh Brown made a return trip to the IESA state tournament.
 
“I definitely think we know what pressure is," Makenzi Bielfeldt said. "We know how to deal with pressure, and we know that it takes a lot of effort, will and want to be at that next level.”
 
***
Makenzi Bieleldt scored on an offensive-rebound putback and Maci Bielfeldt made a basket to give GCMS an early 4-0 lead with 6:22 left in the first quarter.
 
Momence's Matti Lanie drained a 3-pointer to cut her team's deficit to 4-3 with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter. From there, Momence would be held scoreless until Lanie tallied a two-point bucket with 42 seconds left in the quarter as the Falcons ended the quarter leading 10-5.
 
“The girls have been working hard on defense," Dornbusch said. "I really stress that this year – the defense is what's going to win the games for us. Offense will come. If we can play good defense, we're in a lot of ballgames, and that's where a lot of our success is. We did pretty well tonight, too.”
 
Makenzi Bielfeldt made a jump shot with 2:42 left in the first quarter and scored on a driving layup with 1:48 remaining in the quarter to make the score 8-3 before receiving an assist from Retherford on a basket that extended GCMS's lead to 10-5 with 22 seconds left in the quarter.
 
Makenzi Bielfeldt assisted Maci Bielfeldt on a basket that made the score 12-6 after the Falcons were held scoreless for the first 1:55 of the second quarter. Momence's Brooke Kelly tallied a free throw with 7:36 remaining in the quarter.
 
Lanie -- who finished with a game-high 18 points -- scored a basket to cut Momence's deficit to 12-8 before Maci Bielfeldt followed her own shot to score on an offensive-rebound putback to extend GCMS's lead to 14-8 with 4:52 left in the second quarter.
 
After a free throw by Lanie and a basket by Kelly cut Momence's deficit to 14-11, Retherford made two free throws with 3:11 remaining in the second quarter.
 
Lanie and Makenzi Bielfeldt exchanged baskets to make the score 18-13 before Lanie made a free throw with 2:11 left in the first half and Kelly made a basket with 1:25 remaining in the half to cut Momence's deficit to 18-16.
 
With 41 seconds left in the first half, Makenzi Bielfeldt scored on an offensive-rebound putback to extend GCMS's lead to 20-16 as halftime approached.
 
***
After Momence's Mya Keen made a basket to cut her team's deficit to 20-18, Hathaway scored on a driving layup to make the score 22-18 with 5:53 left in the third quarter. 
 
Following a layup by Lanie with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Retherford tallied a basket with 5:12 left in the quarter and Hathaway drained a 3-pointer to extend GCMS's lead to 27-10 with 4:48 remaining in the quarter.
 
Lanie drained a 3-pointer with 2:48 left in the third quarter to cut Momence's deficit to 27-23 before a basket by Moody made the score 29-23. Lanie tallied another two-point basket to cut make the score 29-25 as the third quarter came to an end.
 
Amy Leach made a 3-pointer to cut Momence's deficit 29-28. From there, however, the Falcons' defense would hold its opponent scoreless as Makenzi Bielfeldt tallied a bucket on GCMS's ensuing possession following Leach's trey to extend the Falcons' lead to 31-28 with 5:05 remaining in the game.
 
“We like to focus on defense," Makenzi Bielfeldt said. "It's what we like to be known for.”
 
After both teams were held scoreless for the next minute and 18 seconds, Retherford scored with 3:47 left in the game to extend GCMS's lead to 33-28. From there, another 2 1/2 minutes would pass without any scoring until Moody tallied a basket to make the score 35-28. 
 
A basket by Makenzi Bielfeldt with 15 seconds remaining in the game concluded the scoring at 37-28.
 
“It feels good," Dornbusch said. "It was a hard-fought game. Our girls played hard.” 
 
Along with Makenzi Biefeldt's 16 points, Retherford and Moody each added six points while Hathaway and Moody contributed five and four points, respectively.
 
GCMS 37, Momence 28
MOM 5    11    9    3    -- 28   
GCMS 10   10    9    8    -- 37
Momence
Brooke Kelly 2-1-5, Matti Lanie 7-2-18, Mya Keen 1-0-2, Kaitlynn Piekarczyk 1-0-2, Amy Leach 1-0-3, Icis Amphy 0-0-0, Alicia Cruz 0-0-0. Totals 11-3-28.
GCMS (17-12)
Claire Retherford 2-2-6, Makenzi Bielfeldt 8-0-16, Hannah Hathaway 2-0-5, Maci Bielfeldt 3-0-6, Megan Moody 2-0-4, Emily Clinton 0-0-0. Totals 17-2-37.
3-pointers -- Momence 3 (Lanie 2, Leach). GCMS (Hathaway).    

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