By Marc Nesseler, firstname.lastname@example.org
GALESBURG — How well did the Galesburg girls' basketball team play in its first game of 2013?
Two Alleman starters had career nights — point guard Anna Wetherell with 13 assists and center Erin Morrisey with 29 points — and the Streaks still pulled away to a 73-65 Western Big 6 Conference victory on Thursday night.
With the game tied at 44 and the Streaks having their fill of the Wetherell-to-Morrisey feed, the Streaks played one of their own season's best stretches to close out the third quarter with a 15-6 run on their way to victory. Galesburg (12-6, 3-2 the WB6) hit 21-of-24 free throws for the game and were 7-of-8 in the second half.
"The kids stepped up," Galesburg coach Evan Massey said of the foul-line accuracy. "Sometimes it's all about who shoots them."
In this case, though, it didn't matter. Leading scorers Jessica Lieber and Sharron Diggins, with 26 and 15 points, respectively, both were 5-of-6 from the line. Casey Williams and Chloe Anderson both were 4-of-4 and Allison Mangieri was 2-of-2.
They needed to be that good to fend off the 9-8 Pioneers, who, despite being 0-5 in the conference, served notice that they still could be a factor in the WB6 race.
"I'm disappointed with the outcome, but that's all I'm disappointed with," said Alleman coach Jay Hatch. "If we play like that every night, teams are going to have to earn it against us.
"I know it hasn't shown up with wins in the conference, but if we keep going like this, we're going to make some noise there."
The Pioneers led 16-13 after the first quarter, with Morrisey pouring in 12 points and Wetherell getting three assists and a steal. That, though, is when the Streaks' 1-2 tandem of Lieber and Diggins took over.
Galesburg outscored the Pioneers 28-17 in the second quarter, and was the difference in the game. Lieber scored 10 in the frame and Diggins had six.
"Alleman always seems to frustrate us with their half-court defense, but this time our girls didn't get frustrated," said Massey. "Jessica had an outstanding year last year and is having one this year, but you always want someone else to step up their game. Sharron has done that and is significantly better."
Hatch notes that his Pioneers have become significantly better as this season progresses.
"Three weeks ago, Galesburg would have beaten us by 40; we're going in the right direction," he said.
Big games like those from Morrisey and Wetherell with do that. Even if Massey only knew Morrisey by her number and not her name postgame.
"I'm getting to the age where I have a hard time remembering my dog's name," said the Galesburg coach. "But I can tell you their post player, and I'm not sure who she is, really finished well and hit the open looks."
That, of course, was Morrisey, who hit 13-of-16 field goals in addition to snaring seven rebounds.
As for Massey's dog?
That would be Willow, though, yes, it did take the ol' coach five or six seconds to nail that question.