Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2012, 11:37 pm

Galesburg tourney gives nice WB6 preview

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By Marc Nesseler,

GALESBURG – On Black Friday, it was a good time for some comparison shopping among Western Big 6 Conference boys' basketball teams at John Thiel Gymnasium.

Moline, United Township and Galesburg each faced similar opponents as the Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament wound down to its final day today, giving a sneak preview on what to expect when the WB6 starts next Friday.

- Moline handled East Peoria 55-40, but not as easily as Galesburg did two nights before in a 34-point win in which the Raiders only scored 23 points.

- United Township witnessed a one-man wrecking crew in Englewood's Shartone Moore (31 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks) in the Panthers' 74-61 loss to the Eagles. Two nights earlier, Moline edged Englewood by one and held Moore to 13 points and 13 rebounds.

- Galesburg went blue-collar in corralling Chicago Dyett, with eight of its top nine scoring – topped by Grant Gibson's 34 points -- in a 65-49 decision. Four hours later, UTHS edged Dyett 52-45, with eight of its top 10 players scoring, led by Deveric Rodgers with 13 points.

- Moline had a second game as well, closing the night facing a red-hot shooting Bartonville Limestone, which hit 38 of 67 field goals en route to a 94-73 victory. Moline scored 24 in the third quarter and 22 in the fourth, but were still outscored by seven points in that half.Limestone's Rockets were victorious over the Panthers by a convincing 19 in the tourney's Tuesday opener.

- In the only game Friday that didn't provide any comparison – yet -- was Galesburg's nightcap, a 51-48 loss to Chicago Westinghouse. Thus, stay tuned, because UTHS opens with Westinghouse at 9 a.m. today at Thiel Gym and Moline closes out the tourney against the Warriors at 7 tonight at Wharton Field House.

Westinghouse survived when Galesburg, trailing 49-48, was called for a charging foul on Grant Gibson (18 points) with 4.9 seconds left. Travon Diggins led the Streaks (2-1) in scoring with 19.
And, if you haven't had enough to digest to figure out half of the WB6, Moline will face Dyett at 10:30 a.m., Galesburg meets Englewood at noon and Limestone at 7, and UT will square off with East Peoria at 1:30 today at Galesburg.

- Figuring out the Maroons can be a conundrum.

In their opener, Drew Owens was nearly all of the offense. Against East Peoria, he didn't convert a field goal, though he did total seven assists, six rebounds, three steals and was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Instead, it was Jed Wood carrying the load, hitting 5-of-7 3-pointers early. However, in his 17-point game, he went scoreless in the second half.

Then, in Moline's second game, the Maroons (2-1) hung with the Rockets through one and a half quarters, trailing just 24-21 after going through seven tie scores. That, though, is when Limestone scored in bunches, going on a 17-2 run that included five 3-point plays. The Maroons couldn't recover from there.

- The Panthers had no seniors among the dozen who played Friday, and often times it showed. However, they're learning to grow – against Englewood, sophomores Javen Goodwin and Lamont Mitchell scored 17 and 12 points, respectively, and they had nine rebounds each. Junior Deveric Rodgers chipped in with 14.

"I think where we are improving is that we are starting to adjust to varsity-level basketball," said UT coach Marc Polite. "This was the first time that I've seen them settle down a little more.

"And what we need to improve on the most, ironically, is the same thing -- we need to be able to make plays at the varsity level. I think these players have a lot of upside, but it's going to take some time."

The Panthers (1-2) kept their composure against Dyett's Eagles, especially when Dyett lost leading scorer James Vines to two technical fouls. Because of that ejection, Vines (19 points) will not be able to play in the game against Moline this morning.

Against the Eagles, Mitchell came through with nine points and seven rebounds, and Goodwin had six points and five rebounds. The biggest points, though, belonged to Ryan Merideth. Four of his eight came after an 8-0 Dyett run that tied the game at 43. That helped UT end on a 9-2 run of its own.

As for comparing the Panthers to the Maroons or Streaks, Polite says that's not a fair assessment at this point because of UT's lack of varsity experience.

"We've still got a ways to go," the UT coach said. "You've got to look down the road for us. Galesburg's got a lot of seasoning and Moline is playing with juniors as seniors whereas we have juniors and sophomores."