The Moline boys basketball team did not make things easy on a Galesburg team looking to clinch a Western Big 6 Conference title.
The Maroons came just a play or two away, but the Silver Streaks finished with a clutch defensive sequence to secure a 48-43 win at Wharton Field House on Friday night. Paired with the Geneseo loss to Rock Island, the Silver Streaks (26-3, 11-2 Big 6) grabbed their first outright Big 6 title since 1998. Moline fell to 15-11, 5-7.
It took every little play to make the difference, but the Class 3A sixth-ranked Streaks pulled it out, despite finishing 0 of 16 from three as Eric Price constantly dealt with foul trouble. Senior Jaylin McCants finished with a game-high 14 points and 15 rebounds.
The GHS defense was Friday’s hero.
Following a timeout, Moline had the ball down three with 13.3 to play. Looking to tie the game, Kyle Taylor’s longball was blocked by Galesburg’s Alex Egipciaco, whose outlet pass found Kyleb Meadows for a game-sealing layup.
Moline coach Sean Taylor’s team has battled all season long, and Friday was no different.
“They’re not going to be outworked, and they’ll come back Monday wanting more,” Taylor said.
Moline used a 17-11 advantage in the second quarter to tie the game at 21 at halftime. The Maroons kept things tight, leading 35-34 with 7:16 to play.
Galesburg led by two with 2:38 left, but a McCants steal and dunk and a Dre Egipciaco bucket gave the Streaks a late cushion that Moline could not overcome.
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Taylor said his team did a good job of controlling the tempo and mostly limiting the damage of its 10 turnovers. GHS had 10 turnovers of its own.
He said the team’s final play provided shooting options for multiple players, but the length of Galesburg showed up on the late block.
“We got a 3 opportunity, and you want an opportunity to tie it,” Taylor said. “And we got one.”
Ryne Schimmel and Brandon Stone led Moline with 12 points each. Schimmel scored eight in the fourth quarter, with his third triple of the game, making the deficit 3 with 46.9 left. The Streaks hit just enough free throws down the stretch, finishing 6-8 at the line in the final quarter.
Brock Harding added eight points, nine rebounds and three assists for the Maroons. Taylor was 2-2 at the line with two points. Coach Taylor said Michael Billups is no longer on the team.
Galesburg coach Ryan Hart noted the challenge of shooting at Wharton after the team’s 17-50 night from the field and 0-16 performance from deep. Moline also packed things inside on defense, even holding McCants scoreless in the third quarter. The more Moline hung around, the tighter things became for the Streaks’ offense.
“They guarded the heck out of us all night long,” Hart said. “Even when we did get the ball into Jaylin, they had three guys around him as soon as he caught the ball.”
Price picked up his third foul early in the third and his fourth late in the same quarter. He finished with just three points, but his first tally of the second half was a late free throw with under a minute to play.
“We just had to find a way to win,” Hart said. “We some stops at the end and some layups, and it worked out for us at the end.”
Hart’s team celebrated the victory following the win, but he said a conference title hasn’t really been talked about.
“We just talk about moving on to the next game, playing it right, playing it hard,” the first-year Galesburg coach said. “The motto has always been, you’re only as good as your next game … The chips fell where they did, so now, we’re on top.”