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Monday, December 31, 2012

Tom Wilson Describes a Thriller

Tom Wilson in the Register-Mail describes one of the most thrilling GHS girls finishes....

(It should be noted that he does not mention the injury of Coach Rux in this game. He was so excited and jumped so high, he pulled a calf muscle so he could hardly walk for a week after the game.)

One of the most exciting basketball games in Galesburg High School girls basketball history closed out 1997 in a blaze of glory. The miraculous shot occurred in the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.
The event was the inaugural "Grand Championship" of the Bloomington-Normal Holiday Classic Tournament. The GHS girls reached the grand championship against Mendota after defeating Normal Community, Normal U-High and Olympia. Both teams entered the championship with 13 victories and only one blemish.
The Silver Streaks found a lid on the basket converting only three first quarter baskets on 17 attempts and trailed after the opening stanza 24-10. Although GHS picked up the tempo in the second quarter by scoring 27 points, the Streaks still trailed at half 41-37.

The Streaks' second quarter improvement evaporated quickly in the third stanza as Mendota surged to a 53-37 lead in less than three minutes. Galesburg narrowed the Mendota lead to 57-50 as Jenny Zolper, Megan Pacheco, Michelle Flaar and Sarah Larson initiated what seemed at the time an impossible comeback as GHS turned the action into a fevered pitch.
With five minutes remaining, Larson fouled out and was replaced by Whitney Snyder who proceeded to score eight points and grab six offensive rebounds down the stretch. Galesburg’s smallest player — 5-foot-4 Jaque Howard — hit a game-tying 3-pointer off a steal with 47 seconds remaining.
Mendota headed down the floor in hopes of scoring the winning shot and proceeded to have Galesburg intercept a wayward pass that was scooped up by Snyder, who scored what appeared to produce a GHS winner. Mendota was not to be denied as they went the length of the floor and tied the game at 74 with 14 seconds remaining.
The Silver Streak girls calmly advanced the ball across the center line. With only two seconds remaining, Pacheco dished the ball to Howard who was camped a foot beyond the free throw circle.
Howard quickly released the ball and with a stunned crowd holding their breath watched a game winning “Swisher,” which made Galesburg the champion.
The game winning 3-pointer for Howard was her fifth of the game as she finished with 21 points and contributed seven steals. It is interesting to note that in the GHS win over Olympia, Howard mused that there was a lid on the basket as she missed seven consecutive 3-point attempts.
The Register-Mail sports scribe Tom Loewy, in his after game write-up, wrote that about the only thing Howard didn’t do during the Mendota game was chisel Galesburg’s name on the championship trophy. Loewy pointed out that Howard didn’t need any antiquated tools. She merely used her 3-point jump shot.
Howard returned to the Silver Streaks program in recent years as an assistant coach. Her game winning 3-pointer at the Shirk Center in 1997 will long be reminisced.

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