The Galesburg Silver Streaks waited until after Friday night's game with United Township to do any scoreboard-gazing in the Western Big 6 Conference boys' basketball race.|
But while Rock Island's overtime win at Moline earned it sole possession of the Big 6 lead, the Silver Streaks kept themselves in line to possibly earn a title share after pulling away from the Panthers for a 58-37 victory at the Panther Den in East Moline.
"Each conference game is a big one for us,'' said Galesburg sophomore forward Grant Gibson. "We'd love to win them all. Our goals are to win the Big 6 and a regional title.''
Held to just three points on 1-of-7 shooting in the first half, Gibson broke loose in the third quarter to help the Streaks (16-13, 6-3) turn a 28-20 halftime lead into a 42-22 cushion entering the fourth quarter. He scored 11 points to help fuel a pair of third-quarter runs and finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
"At halftime, the coaches told us we needed to bring the energy up on the defensive end, and if we did that, the shots would fall,'' said Gibson. "Defense wins games. That's what they preach all the time in practice.''
With Ethan Meeker adding 14 points and Travon Diggins notching nine points and three steals, Galesburg's second-half push enabled it to move into a second-place tie with Quincy after the Blue Devils fell to Alleman. Quincy is at Rock Island next Friday, with Galesburg traveling to Alleman.
"For us to come out for the third Friday night in a row and play like crazy, that's nice to see,'' said Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds. "We can't take care of what others do. We can only take care of what the Silver Streaks can do.''
Looking to play the spoiler after scoring a pair of wins last weekend, United Township (5-20, 2-7) fell behind 12-4, but eventually settled down. Trailing 14-7 after one, the Panthers used a pair of Lamont Mitchell 3-pointers to close the gap to 21-20 with 2:10 left before halftime.
But just when the hosts thought the momentum was theirs, Galesburg closed the half with a 7-1 run to take a 28-21 halftime lead. Things only got worse for UT once the third quarter commenced, as the Streaks ran their run to 20-1 to open up a 14-point lead.
"Galesburg is a quality team; that's why they're toward the top of the league,'' said United Township coach Marc Polite."We looked very out of sync on offense. Part of that was Galesburg, the other part was that we were out of whack, making a lineup change with (sophomore guard Ryan) Merideth out (with an ankle injury). We never got in any offensive flow at all. We had some long stretches where we defended well, but in the second half, we got out-toughed in a lot of ways.''
Mitchell led UT with 12 points and seven rebounds. Trevor May added eight points and Deveric Rogers notched five boards.