GALESBURG - In becoming the second-winningest Western Big 6 Conference boys basketball coach in history last week, Rock Island's Thom Sigel has posted plenty of victories in every league venue over 19 seasons.
Tuesday night he got his first ever in Galesburg High School's field house — a facility normally used for practice and non-varsity sports — when his Rocks' 70-60 victory forced a first-place tie in the WB6 against the previously unbeaten Silver Streaks.
The GHS field house is being used by Streaks varsity teams while the high school is undergoing a major renovation, rendering Thiel Gym unavailable.
"It's definitely not a Western Big 6 environment," said Sigel.
"I was worried. They're a lot more used to this than anybody else in the conference."
Galeburg had used the temporary facility to help build a 5-0 start to the season and the No. 6 ranking in the state Class 3A poll.
But the Rocks, now 7-2 overall, brought in a 4-1 league record and left with a tie for the lead.
And while not exceptionally played, it was a see-saw battle fitting for a game between two title contenders.
Rock Island led 17-16 at the quarter, 30-28 at the half and 48-47 after three quarters.
It wasn't until Jordan Rice hit a pair of free throws and Amarion Nimmers scored inside that the Rocks pulled ahead to a 66-60 advantage with just over a minute to go.
Rice scored 11 fourth-quarter points to add to his 19 for the game and combine with Nimmers' game-high 31 to power Rock Island.
The Rocks, who were outrebounded 30-28, shot 13-for-19 from the free-throw line to Galesburg's 5-for-14 effort.
"Indecisiveness," said Galesburg coach Ryan Hart when asked what factor decided his team's fate. "We catch the ball and the ball sticks. We don't drive when we get it. You have to do something with it when you get it."
Eric Price led Galesburg with 18 points. Dre Egipciaco had 14.
"I like the things we did down the stretch," said Sigel, whose team committed no turnovers in the fourth quarter.
"In the first half, I thought we regressed. But they had something to do with it."