|GALESBURG – The last 12.8 seconds that decided the Western Big 6 Conference first-place girls' basketball battle between state-ranked Rock Island and Galesburg was must-see thrilling.|
If only Galesburg guards Sharron Diggins and Rainey Sibley could remember seeing the action that gave the Class 3A 8th-ranked Silver Streaks the 61-60 win over the 9th-ranked Rocks.
"I don't even remember what happened. All I remember is coming down with the ball" right before the final buzzer sounded, said Sibley.
"I was all messed up," said Diggins, who, with four fouls, scored 14 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. "I was trying not to foul at the end and, honestly, I thought they were calling it Rocky's ball at the end."
The way it ended didn't sit well with Rocky coach Thad Hoover, whose Rocks fall a half-game behind the Streaks in the WB6, RI with three games left and the Streaks with two.
The Rocks had leading scorer Shavonne Brewer (19 points) with the ball in the right corner, but she was heavily guarded. Brewer cross-courted it to Harmonee Trice, who missed a close-ranger, got the rebound and couldn't get the putback. That rebound fell into Sibley's hands.
"We had two layups, you saw it. You can't get better than that, you can't get any closer," Hoover said. "All I know is, if it's down there (at the Streaks' end), it's a foul."
Neither Sibley nor Diggins could recall the defensive strategy to allow the Streaks (22-5, 6-3 in the WB6) to protect their precarious one-point lead. Galesburg coach Evan Massey, though, knows that it didn't quite work out the way they had hoped.
"We wanted to limit them to one shot," Massey said. "They are just so good on the offensive boards. Unfortunately, we didn't get the first rebound, so it got more dramatic there at the end."
The finish means the final weeks are going to be more of the same fasten-your-seatbelts drama.
"We did everything we could do," said Hoover, whose Rocks are now 18-6, 5-3.
The leaders for both teams did everything they could. For the Rocks, Sarita Goldsmith backed Brewer with a double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds. Shamell Mangrum and Rayven Morrow had eight boards apiece, and Trice had seven in a reserve role.
For the Streaks, Jessica Lieber and Sadee Hamilton joined Diggins in double figures with 16 and 11 respectively. Hamilton had nine boards.
"We knew this was for first," said Diggins. "We talked about it before the game, how hard we had to play."
With the Streaks trailing 49-48, Diggins scored six straight points to give Galesburg a big five-point lead. The Rocks, though, battled back and took the lead on an unusual four-play play -- a 3-pointer by Raquel Garcia and a split of two free throws by Trice, who was fouled away from the ball on the shot.
Lieber made a basket, but missed the and-one, with 44 seconds left, setting the stage for the Rocks' last-gasp try.