Originally Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2013, 11:12 pm
Last Updated: Feb. 23, 2013, 1:00 am

Pioneers run out of steam in effort for another Big 6 upset

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By Marc Nesseler, nesseler@qconline.com

Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds would like to have 4.5 seconds back from the Silver Streaks' Western Big 6 Conference boys' basketball season.

"There are two games we should have won, we know that, but we're not going to make excuses," Reynolds said after the Silver Streaks' 55-43 win over Alleman at Morris Gym on Friday night. "We were less than 4 and a half seconds from being 9-1 in the league."

Instead, the 18-13 Streaks finish with a 7-3 record in the WB6, to finish second-best behind 8-2 Rock Island. Quincy, which had a chance to force a three-way tie by beating Rocky, finished at 6-4 in league play.

The Streaks lost by one to the Rocks two weeks ago on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The other close one came against Moline, by a point.

It was a week ago that Alleman stunned Quincy, and for nearly three quarters, it looked as if the Pioneers (7-18, 2-8) might clip two of the top three to close out the regular season.

Alleman led 19-18 at the half, and it would have been a six-point lead but for two buzzer-beaters at the ends of quarters by Galesburg's Grant Gibson, the first being a half-courter, the second on a rebound.

The Streaks' first lead of more than a point came with 3:42 left in the third quarter at 29-26. It just grew from there.

And it's easy to see where the Pioneers let that slip away. They were 4-of-13 from the free-throw line for the game, and 1-for-7 through three quarters. Right before that Ryan Carl basket that put the Streaks up by 3, Alleman had missed both ends of a two-shot foul.

"That has been our Achilles heel all season, in spite of us working on them from day one," Alleman coach Pat Rangel said of his team's 31 percent from the line for the game.

Once Galesburg captured some semblance of a lead cushion, it took off. The Streaks were 8-of-12 from the floor in the fourth quarter.

Key for Galesburg was freshman Ethan Meeker, who was 4-of-5 on second-half 3-pointers, all from the same spot at the top of the key.

"It was good to see Meeker and Carl break out before regionals next week," said Reynolds. Meeker finished with 12 points, all on 3s, with Carl sharing team rebounding honors with Grant Gibson with six to go with nine points. Gibson led the Streaks with 16 points.

As for the conference runner-up finish, Reynolds says he likes the momentum his team takes into the regional that his Streaks will host.

"Hopefully this spurs us on," he said. "Hopefully we'll realize that every play counts, every possession counts."

Alleman, too, carries a bit of momentum into the postseason. Led by Adam Hoogerwerf's 16 points and Joe Boland's eight rebounds, they showed they might have what it takes to continue their marked improvement. Between the win over Quincy and this loss to the Streaks, the Pioneers lost by one to a 20-win Rock Falls team.

"There's no 'might' to it; we absolutely see progress in the level of play right now," said Rangel. "We're looking forward to the regional."

Alleman opens the Class 3A Galesburg Regional as a No. 5 seed in the five-team field. It will face No. 4-seed Geneseo on Monday.