Wednesday, November 26, 2014
By Steve Tappa, firstname.lastname@example.org
ROCK ISLAND -- Alleman's absence from the Western Big 6 Conference title race the last few seasons fuels a desire to return to contender status.
However, state title-winning Pioneers' coach Jay Hatch said, to turn that goal into a reality this season, his girls' basketball team needs to start winning games like Tuesday's 54-48 Galesburg decision in the Big 6 opener at Alleman's Don Morris Gym.
The back-and-forth battle featured five ties and 12 lead changes until the Streaks' 6-foot-1 center, Shayli Florine, scored seven of her 12 points in the final 4 minutes and 4 seconds.
``We've been close for too long,'' Hatch said after Alleman's first loss in four starts. ``We need to get over the hump. ``We had several games like this last season where we were in the game but didn't pull out the victory. These are the kinds of games you need to win if you want to be a conference contender.''
Led by 19 points, five rebounds and two steals from Izzy Anderson, Alleman led by as many as seven points early, at 16-9 just inside the second quarter.
The Pioneers also got 13 points, five boards and four assists from Daria Guzzo, and boasted a five-point pad midway through the third period.
However, in the fourth quarter, when the lead changed hands five times, Galesburg (5-0, 1-0 Big 6) finally got its pick-and-roll offensive attack going for Florine.
Alleman limited the junior to one shot in the first half and two buckets before the deciding stretch. Florine also finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.
``We lost a little defensive discipline and sort of forgot what we were trying to do,'' Hatch said. ``I'm not trying to take away credit from them, but it's not like they discovered the screen-and-roll there. It's something they do a lot, and they know how to do it, and they kept working until they got it, and that's what good teams do. They're going to take advantage of when they get good shots.''
Alleman's last lead, at 46-45, disintegrated on back-to-back possessions when Florine cashed in pick-and-roll plays for baskets, missing a free throw to complete a three-point play in between, with Galesburg grabbing the rebound.
On the other end, the Pioneers suffered three turnovers late and misfired on all but two of 10 shots from the field in the final quarter.
``We did a lot of really good things, but we didn't execute on either end when we really needed to and Galesburg did,'' Hatch said. ``That was the difference.''
Raina Gulley (13), Lexi Daniels (12) and Casey Williams (11) also scored in double figures for Galesburg to make up for a two-point, foul-plagued night for Streaks star Sabrina Clay.
``I know these kids will continue to work,'' Hatch said, eyeing a pair of games Saturday in the Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament. ``We just have to figure out a way to help them get to where they want to go and get over the hump.''