If you haven’t discovered how competitive Galesburg basketball teams are this season, just ask opposing teams. Combined, the GHS boys and girls basketball teams are 36-7 for a .837 winning percentage. The Streaks boys are 18-3, winners of a dozen straight, ranked No. 9 in Class 3A and have claimed championships at the Charleston and Galesburg MLK tourneys in the last month. The GHS girls are 18-4, winners of the Charleston Holiday Tourney and ranked No. 7 in Class 3A, having their 13-game win streak snapped with a tough loss to Morton on Monday.
Coach Mike Reynolds’ boys team throws an in-your-face, man-to-man defense at opposing teams. The girls, led by Hall of Fame coach Evan Massey, play an up-tempo, pressure style of basketball better known as “the system.” While completely different styles of play, they share a common denominator — they require their players to play hard, and that is the trademark of both programs.
Some other things to note about the Galesburg High School basketball programs:
For years, fans longed for the return of the Thanksgiving tournament for the boys team. Now, Galesburg can boast of two Thanksgiving and two Martin Luther King tourneys, with the boys and girls each hosting two tournaments. This past Monday, there were 12 opposing teams and their fans in Galesburg, with five of those teams staying overnight, thus contributing to our local economy in terms of lodging, restaurant and shopping dollars.
The competition in the recent King tourneys was especially good, with five of the girls teams mentioned in the state rankings, and the boys tourney including Gurnee Warren, the No. 4-ranked team in Class 4A. The Streaks, of course, shocked Warren — a school with nearly 4,400 students — 54-53 in a thrilling game Saturday.
Knox College has generously opened its facilities to help GHS make the tourneys work.
Reynolds and Massey work together and support each other. And the players from the two teams support and cheer for each other at their respective games.
Of course there’s no guarantee for continued success in the regular season or for deep advancement in the postseason. The boys and girls both play tough schedules and will face stiff competition in their respective regional tournaments. But one thing’s almost a sure bet: the Galesburg boys and girls basketball teams will continue to practice and play hard.
As we’ve seen, especially in recent years, these type of seasons don’t come along every year. Your next chance to see the Streaks boys play is Friday when Galesburg plays host to rival Moline. It will be basketball alumni night, where former Streaks are invited back to support the team and the program. The Streaks girls play a key Western Big 6 Conference game Thursday at Rock Island, with first place in the conference on the line.
What better way to reward the hard work of these young men and women than for the fans to get out and support the Streaks, especially when it’s as simple and driving out to Thiel Gym? It’s obviously premature to say Streaks basketball has returned to the “glory days,” but if the players and coaches are going to make the effort to get back, surely the fans can, too. — Jay Redfern, assistant editor