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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Alleman Over the Streaks

From the Argus....

GALESBURG – Though Doris Hatch passed away Monday evening, there was no doubt in the mind of her son, Alleman girls' basketball coach Jay Hatch, that he would make the trip to John Thiel Gymnasium on Tuesday night to coach the Pioneers in their Western Big 6 Conference opener against the Galesburg Silver Streaks.

"She would have kicked my butt if I wouldn't have coached," said Jay, admitting that the day was rough, but it was one that ended with his team pulling out a hard-fought 48-39 victory.

Still, the Alleman players were taken aback a bit by having their coach with them for their basketball game when the game of life had dealt him a setback.

"We didn't find out until 10 this morning, so we were all surprised he was here," Alleman junior point guard Izzy Anderson said after she had hit a pair of clutch shots late in the game. "We know he cares about us and we really wanted to win this game for him.

"We know that both of his parents were big fans of basketball. I think this (coaching the Big 6 opener) is what he really needed to help him through it."

Alleman improves to 2-3, with Galesburg falling to 1-4.

Billie Franks matched Anderson's pair of fourth-quarter baskets to enable the Pioneers to pull away from the Streaks in the final three minutes of the game. Franks had six of her game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter; Anderson had four of her 10. Both hit their pair of shots from the same spots on the court, Anderson out front and Franks on the baseline.

"We practice those a lot," said Anderson. "We knew we could make them."

Up until then, Alleman had struggled. The Pioneers were 4-of-22 shooting in the middle two quarters. However, Galesburg couldn't take advantage, going 5-of-23 in the second and third frames.

"I think the shooting had a lot to do with the defenses of both teams," said Hatch. "They have so many sets, so many plays, that you just have to work really, really hard."

The motivated Pioneers certainly did that. They jumped out to an 11-5 lead, but the margin between the two teams was no more than four from then until it was 40-34 Alleman midway through the final quarter. Even then, Galesburg brought it back to a two-point game before Anderson and Franks finished it off with an 8-1 run.

Thought Hatch didn't think his mother's passing had any effect on the game – "We didn't talk about it; it's not something to focus on in basketball," the coach said – Anderson offered that the effort of the Pioneers had a purpose. They wanted the day to end with a positive.

"We knew he was here for us," she said of their coach.

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