Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grinnell continues dominating play

Remember the comeback from Grinnell's most recent game? You know, down by 25 at the half, rally to take a late lead in regulation only to see the game head to overtime, then dominate overtime on its way to a victory? Right, that one. Well, coach David Arseneault pointed to this as a possible "season saver" in a post on the Yahoo! message board devoted to The System.

Game 1 of the rest of the season went like clockwork.

Griffin Lentsch made 10 3-pointers and had 32 points, five other players reached double figures in scoring and Scott Kaitz had 10 assists to help the NCAA Division III Pioneers roll past Monmouth 133-92 in the Midwest Conference on Wednesday night. Matt Chalupa, Matt Skelly, Dominique Bellamy and Aaron Levin all finished with 17 points and Patrick Maher added 10 for Grinnell (10-6, 5-6 MWC), which boasts consecutive conference victories for the first time this season.

Part of me wanted to write that this one was over at the halftime, when the Pioneers took a 71-40 lead. Of course, given that huge comeback over the weekend at Lawrence, nothing is for sure, but Grinnell did what it had to do in the final 20 minutes. Here are the numbers for the game:

- Attempted 89 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 59 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 41 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 29 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 15 more shots than the the Fighting Scots (3-13, 1-10)

The Pioneers trailed took control with a 20-5 run in the first half, then completed the domination by outscoring Monmouth 16-5 over the final 4:18 leading into the break. The final 20 minutes was more of the same, with the margin reaching 45 points on Lentsch's final 3 with about 3 minutes remaining in the game.

The solid play is coming just in time for Grinnell, which is seventh in the MWC with only the top four teams qualifying for the conference tournament. But it's a tight race for that final spot, with Lawrence, a team with two losses to the Pioneers, currently holding it with a 7-4 mark. That's a two-game difference, with Illinois College and Lake Forest tied for fifth at 6-5.

Grinnell has one game left against Illinois College and two with Lake Forest, including one Saturday in the friendly confines of Darby Gymnasium, where the Pioneers are 7-1 this season. Game time is 4 p.m. EST, and I wish Coach A and the boys nothing but the best.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Second half momentum easily carries ONU to ninth consecutive W

Something about Saint Xavier seems to bring out the worst in the NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene. Seriously. In the past six seasons, each time coach Doug Porter and the Tigers were able to put together a winning streak of at least six games, it was the Cougars of Saint Xavier who stopped the run.

Not this time.

On Tuesday night, No. 21 ONU buried 10th-ranked Saint Xavier with a huge second half and went on to win 92-72 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Stephanie Denius led the way with 18 points, including five 3-pointers, Danielle Tolbert added 16 points and Danielle Pipal finished with 15 points and four steals as the Tigers (18-4, 3-0 CCAC) won their ninth consecutive game.

The score was tied at 42 at the half, and ONU led only 59-53 with 12:40 left in the game before building some momentum. A 17-3 spurt over the next 4 minutes boosted the margin to 20, capped by back-to-back-to-back 3s from Tolbert, Holly Schacht and Denius.

The Cougars (13-6, 1-1) creeped within 78-64 but not any closer, allowing Coach Porter and his team to join Indiana-South Bend as the only two unbeaten teams in the CCAC. Alex Barone and Shalonda Young each scored 17 points for Saint Xavier.

Here are the numbers for ONU:

- Attempted 93 shots
- Attempted 48 3-pointers
- Rebounded 49 percent of the rebounds on offense
- Forced 28 turnovers (tied a season low for opponents)
- Attempted 13 more shots than the Cougars

The 14 steals for the Tigers also was a season low, which is pretty amazing. Eight of them did come in the second half when Saint Xavier had 16 of its turnovers, so the wear and tear was apparent after halftime.

Next up for ONU is a trip to Robert Morris (15-6, 1-1) on Saturday, with the tip scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. I wish Coach Porter and his team the best of luck.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Way to go, Wabasha-Kellogg!

Coach Glen Irvin and the girls' team at Wabasha-Kellogg HS in Wabasha, Minn., have had a rough time this season, with injuries depleting their roster and forcing them to go away from The System for a while.

Once he had enough depth to go at it again, Coach Irvin went back to the most wonderful style of basketball the world has ever seen. The results, at least for one game, were wonderful.

The Falcons traveled to Lake City on Monday night and came away with a 68-59 victory, improving their record to 3-12 and giving the players some much needed momentum heading into the final portion of the schedule. Nicole Alexander led the way with 21 points, 16 rebounds and six steals and Kalyn Biever added 17 (and five 3-pointers) as Wabasha-Kellogg opened a 32-point lead in the first half.

According to Coach Irvin, Biever came in averaging only about four points, but played the role of "preferred shooter" in the Grinnell-style offense and made the most of her opportunity. All five of her 3s came in the first half.

"We only have three wins this season but I have a really good feeling that we are going to make a run here at the end of the season," Coach Irvin wrote to me in an e-mail.

I certainly hope so. The best of luck to the Falcons the rest of the way, beginning with a home game Friday night against Caledonia.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Amazing comeback for Grinnell, great results abound for The System

Anyone who even casually reads this blog knows of my love for The System and the teams, coaches and players who run it. I wouldn't say I live and die with the results of their games, because that would be silly, yet I do care probably more than I should about the outcomes.

It makes writing about losses difficult. Fortunately, today isn't one of those times, as the past couple of days provided some of the most wonderful successes of the season for some of my favorite squads. For the first time I can remember, each team that I track that still is using this style exclusively is coming off a victory or two. Or, in the case of the NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene, eight of them.

Still, perhaps no story from the weekend is as impressive as the original System team, the NCAA Division III men's team at Grinnell. The Pioneers lost a tough one on the road Friday night, losing 119-108 at Beloit, and had another matchup Saturday against Lawrence, which came into this game with a 7-2 record in the Midwest Conference. One of those losses had come at Grinnell, so I certainly thought Coach David Arseneault and his team could sweep the season series with the Vikings.

Those hopes were diminished somewhat by halftime, when Lawrence took a 60-35 lead into the break. Lawrence shot 71 percent from the field in the first half and appeared on its way to keep the Pioneers winless away from home in the conference. The second half started promisingly enough for Grinnell, with Griffin Lentsch making a 3-pointer, and when the Vikings failed to get the ball across half-court on two consecutive possessions, Lentsch made another from long range to cut the lead to 19.

Just maybe ...

Well, I got called away from the computer and missed the rest of the game. I'm still kicking myself. Using that momentum gained from the quick start, and a lack of depth from a Lawrence team that went into double overtime the night before in a 89-89 victory over Knox, the Pioneers continued to stay after it. Still, the Vikings' lead was 89-75 with 7:55 remaining in the game, or should I say, remaining in regulation (plot spoiler!).

Grinnell then went on an 18-3 run, highlighted by four consecutive 3-pointers from Patrick Maher, Dominique Bellamy, Matt Chalupa and Lentsch. That made the score 89-85, and a couple of minutes later, Garrett Nitz and Matt Skelly each converted two shots at the free throw line to tie the score at 92.

After the lead changed hands a couple of times, Kale Knisley put the Pioneers ahead 97-96 with a layup with 1:20 left. Lawrence's Conor Klusendorf was fouled with 11 seconds on the clock, and after missing the first, he made the second free throw to force overtime.

It was all Grinnell in the extra period, and really, it should have been. By that point, all the Vikings' starters must have been exhausted. Tyler Crisman ended up playing 43 minutes (he played 44 against Knox) and Erik Borresen finished with 42 (47 against Knox). Lentsch opened overtime with a jumper to give the Pioneers the lead for good, and Brian McManamy followed that with a 3 to make it 102-97.

Lawrence got within three at one point but wouldn't get any closer, and Skelly finished off the incredible rally with a pair of free throws in the final seconds to make the final 112-103, Grinnell. Wow.

Lentsch led the way with 26 points, including six 3-pointers, and Chalupa added 17 for the Pioneers (9-6, 4-6 MWC). Maher scored 13, followed by Skelly (12 points), McManamy (11) and Bellamy (11). Maher and Bellamy led the defense with four steals apiece.

Here are the other numbers:

- Attempted 92 shots
- Attempted 53 3-pointers
- Rebounded 28 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 31 turnovers
- Attempted 40 more shots than Lawrence (8-7, 7-3)

Klusendorf had 35 points for the Vikings and Borresen finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists.

Grinnell returns home for a pair of games this week, hosting Monmouth on Wednesday and Lake Forest on Saturday. The best of luck to Coach A and his team, here's hoping they can keep it going.

Speaking of huge second halves ...

Coach Doug Porter and Olivet Nazarene were unstoppable in the final 20 minutes Saturday against Trinity International. The 22nd-ranked Tigers, who led only 35-31 at the break, put up 83 points following halftime to win going away on the road, 118-73, their eighth consecutive victory.

The seventh was one of the games I missed with my little hiatus. ONU (17-4) beat Calumet College of St. Joseph 105-91 Thursday night in a game that really wasn't that close. I watched a good part of the second half and Coach Porter's team was in solid control throughout.

Over the span of those two games, point guard Danielle Tolbert totaled 40 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists (only three turnovers) and nine steals to lead the Tigers. Lexie Heinold finally cooled off a bit in Saturday's W, making 1 of 9 from beyond the arc after shooting 32-for-64 in the previous seven games.

Here are the rest of the numbers:

- Attempted 96 shots
- Attempted 49 3-pointers (made 15 of 26 in the second half)
- Rebounded 38 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 30 turnovers (20 steals)
- Attempted 27 more shots than Trinity International (13-11)

ONU returns to the friendly confines of McHie Arena on Tuesday to play Saint Xavier, one of the top teams in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Tip is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST.

The NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State continues to get back on track, as well, winning its fourth consecutive game Thursday night by beating Alderson Broaddus 93-67 on the road in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Tenisha Wilson had 19 points and six steals for the Pioneers (12-5, 10-2 WVIAC), and Tiffany Huffman added 14 points. Autumn Davis also had six steals, and Miranda Reed filled up her stat sheet with five points, nine assists and five steals.

Here are the other figures:

- Attempted 79 shots
- Attempted 25 3-pointers
- Rebounded 39 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 32 turnovers
- Attempted 13 more shots than the the Battlers (1-13, 1-10)

Coach Bunky Harkleroad and his bunch have a bit of a break in their schedule, next taking the court Thursday at Fairmont State. The best of luck to Glenville State.

Those wonderful Silver Streaks at Galesburg (Ill.) HS, the girls' team, got back on track in a huge way Saturday after a two-game losing streak, the second one a heartbreaking 51-48 loss at Rock Island that dropped coach Evan Massey's team into a tie for second in the Western Big 6, a half-game behind Rock Island.

To complete their Winter Classic, the Streaks played a doubleheader Saturday, hosting Normal U-High and No. 9 Champaign Centennial at John Thiel Gymnasium. Galesburg is ranked seventh in the state 3A poll, so the matchup with Centennial was a good one.

The Streaks won the opener against U-High 66-56, making 14 3-pointers in the process. The nightcap was even more exciting, particularly the opening 16 minutes, or as Coach Massey posted on his blog: "... Our first half was as good as we have ever played."

The score was 33-16 after one period and 55-36 at halftime, thanks in large part of 22 offensive rebounds -- IN THE FIRST HALF!

The Chargers (20-3) made their run, eventually getting to 69-65, but the Streaks (20-5) made 16 of 17 at the line in the fourth quarter to hold for an 84-74 victory. Point guard Tai Peachey had 10 assists and made all four of her free throws, and Jamie Johnson had 10 rebounds and missed only one of her nine free throws.

Great bounce back after two tough losses. Here is Coach Massey's description from his blog:

Coach Massey: "I think the key ingredients with this group is their humility and loyalty. Because of their humility, they accept personal responsibility for losses. They have an amazing desire to improve. I am really fortunate to work with a group like this."

And they're fortunate to have him as the coach.

Galesburg gets back at it Thursday night at home against United Township, which is tied for second in the conference with the Streaks. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST.

The boys' team at Eisenhower HS in Blue Island, Ill., won again Friday night, beating conference foe Argo 88-75. Here are the numbers, as reported by coach Mike Curta:

- Attempted 107 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 58 3-pointers (54 percent of total shots, goal is 40 percent)
- Rebounded 51 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 35 percent)
- Forced 29 turnovers
- Attempted 48 more shots than Argo (Wow!)

Here is Coach Curta's report: "Just cannot seem to wear an opponent down when they are on the verge of cracking ..... we continue to let teams off the hook and give them life when we stop the games due to our fouling. Kind of goes like this: we build a lead, lose our edge a bit, take some silly fouls, and as will happen ... the opposition finds some life and comes roaring back. To our kids credit they found a way to get the win, and have been doing so in our last three games."

There are worse things, right? It appears the schedule has the Cardinals (10-10, 5-3 South Suburban Red Conference) next playing Thursday at Oak Lawn. Best of luck to Coach Curta and his team.

At North Shore HS in Glen Head, N.Y., the girls' team keeps on keepin' on, winning its past two games by an average of 22 points. Perhaps even more impressive is the number of shots coach Keith Freund's team is putting up: in the two games this week, the Vikings totaled 130 and 139 shots! Seriously. For a 32-minute high school girls' game. This includes a combined total of 115 3-pointers in those games.

In the first one, a 74-56 victory at Seaford, Amanda Johansen went off for 17 points, 23 rebounds, five assists and eight steals, and she followed up that effort by finishing with 17 points, 17 rebounds, eight steals, eight blocks and seven assists when North Shore beat Great Neck North 85-69 at home Saturday.

Coach Freund's team is 9-2 overall and 6-0 in the Conference A-III out on Long Island. Best of luck to the Vikings the rest of the way.

Finally, I wanted to check back in with the women's team at Jackson (Mich.) Community College, where coach Andy Hoaglin is in his first season with The System. The Jets put up some more ridiculous numbers Friday night in a 101-55 victory over Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College.

According to Coach Hoaglin, the Jets (8-10, 3-3 Michigan Community College Athletic Association) took 150 shots and rebounded nearly 50 percent of their misses on offense. Great stuff.

Caitlyn Owens led the way with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Nicole Wurster had nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Congratulations to Jackson CC, and I wish Coach Hoaglin and his team success for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Glenville State and ONU dominate; North Shore rolls, Galesburg loses

The rematch wasn't even as competitive as the first game for the NCAA Division II women's teams at Glenville State and Bluefield State. Remember, I attended the first game in Bluefield, W.Va., getting a close-up view of how Pioneers coach Bunky Harkleroad runs his System, at the expense of the Lady Blues.

That one finished with a score of 118-63, and while Glenville State didn't quite reach that point total in the return engagement, Bluefield State came up woefully short of its number, as well.

Kim Stephens made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points in only 15 minutes of playing time, Kristen Golden added eight points, nine rebounds, five blocks and three steals, and the Pioneers picked up an easy 116-46 victory Monday night in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Where else to go for stars? Well, Autumn Davis connected on four 3s and scored 16 points, Mishae Miles had 13 points and 11 rebounds, LaToya Hambrick grabbed 11 boards and Miranda Reed dropped 10 dimes. Yep, another team effort, brought to you by the most wonderful style of basketball known to man (and woman).

Here are the rest of the numbers:

- Attempted 100 shots
- Attempted 52 3-pointers
- Rebounded 63 percent of the misses on offense (What?!)
- Forced 33 turnovers
- Attempted 29 more shots than the Lady Blues

You know, normally opponents shoot a much higher percentage from the field, since many of their shots come from close range after beating the press compared to about half of the attempts coming from beyond the arc for the System teams. Well, that wasn't the case in this one, particularly in the first half -- Bluefield State (1-13, 0-10 WVIAC) finished 7-for-37 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, a shooting percentage of 19 percent. Hard to win when that happens.

Coach Harkleroad and the Pioneers (11-5, 9-2) return to action Wednesday night, on the road at Alderson Broaddus, the first of four consecutive games away from home. Game time is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. EST.

Olivet Nazarene, ranked 22nd in the most recent NAIA women's poll, also had a blowout this week, running past Trinity Christian 122-65 Tuesday night on the road on the strength of a spectacular effort from Lexie Heinold. The junior from Washington, Ill., didn't miss a shot from anywhere except the free throw line, making all seven shots (six from the 3-point line) on her way to 22 points. She did finish 2-for-3 at the line, spoiling what would have been every player's dream.

I know you're wondering about Danielle Pipal, who consistently fills up her stat sheet while running the team from point guard. She had eight points, five assists and six steals in only 12 minutes. Simone Coburn missed only one of her nine shots and scored 17 points, Denita Phelps had 14 points and Miranda Geever added 10 points, five assists and five steals for the Tigers (15-4).

Here are The Formula numbers:

- Attempted 83 shots
- Attempted 31 3-pointers (a season low for coach Doug Porter's team)
- Rebounded 45 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 46 turnovers (26 steals)
- Attempted 19 more shots than the Trolls (great mascot)

So far this season, ONU has forced at least 28 turnovers in each game and more than 30 in 17 of the 19 games, with a high of 52 against Illinois-Wesleyan. Many of these have turned into steals, too: the Tigers average nearly 24, the best in the NAIA and about four more than the next team, Southern University at New Orleans.

Next up for ONU is a visit from Calumet College of St. Joseph on Thursday, with game time scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST. Let's go Tigers!

Coach Evan Massey and his girls' team at Galesburg (Ill.) HS finally had its 13-game winning steak come to an end with a hard-fought loss to Morton by the score of 49-38 in the Winter Classic at Knox College on Monday night. Those 38 points represent a season low for the Streaks (18-4), ranked seventh in the state 3A poll. The previous worst was 62, so quite a comedown for Galesburg.

On his blog, Coach Massey pointed to a the 23 fouls committed by his team, which led to 25 attempts the line for Morton (17-3). The Streaks finished with 14 and lost the battle on the boards 44-26.

Jamie Johnson scored 12 points, the only player to reach double figures, and added eight rebounds. This was a non-conference game, so Galesburg still leads the Western Big 6 at 5-1, with a huge game coming up Thursday at second-place Rock Island, which is one game back. Here's hoping the Streaks get back to the things that make them so successful.

The girls' team at North Shore HS in Glen Head, N.Y., continued to dominate Conference A-III, beating Valley Stream South 62-32 Tuesday night to move to 5-0 in the conference.

The Vikings (7-2 overall) trailed 10-9 at the end of one quarter before coach Keith Freund made some clutch adjustments that allowed his team to rally and to pull away. He reported that he called off the press early in the fourth quarter when the margin reached 32 points.

Here are his impressive stats:

- Attempted 99 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 40 3-pointers (goal is 40)
- Rebounded 32 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 43 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 58 more shots than Valley Stream South (goal is 25)

Amanda Johansen had 11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and six steals for North Shore, and Liz Sheerin scored 10 points. Coach Freund said his team has two more games this week, so I wish them the best of luck.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Glenville State, ONU keep it going; Grinnell loses late lead at home

The NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State had its game against Bluefield State on Thursday night postponed by the weather, and I'm not sure if it was the extra time to prepare or what. But the Pioneers, coached by Bunky Harkleroad, had one of their best efforts of the season in a surprisingly easy 106-75 victory over Fairmont State in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

How surprising? Well, let's look at each of these teams efforts in the past week against conference leader West Liberty: last Saturday, the Hilltoppers handed Glenville State its worst loss of the season, 84-63; then on Thursday, West Liberty traveled to Fairmont State, which won handily 76-60 to stop the Hilltoppers' 10-game winning streak.

So it's easy to believe that Coach Harkleroad's team would have its collective hands full with the Falcons. It didn't quite work out that way, thanks in large part to a dominating effort from Glenville State point guard Danielle Woodmore. She went for 21 points, eight assists and eight steals, leading six of her teammates in double figures. The others were Autumn Davis (12), Tenisha Wilson (12), LaToya Hambrick (11), Kenyell Goodson (10) and Miranda Reed (10).

Here are the numbers for the Pioneers (10-5, 8-2 WVIAC):

- Attempted 91 shots
- Attempted 31 3-pointers
- Rebounded 42 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 31 turnovers
- Attempted 19 more shots than Fairmont State (9-5, 6-4)

Great effort that leaves Glenville State one game behind West Liberty in the loss column. Of course, given the enormity of the task in the WVIAC - 22 games apiece! -- there still is plenty of time for that to change. Coach Harkleroad and the Pioneers make up their game against Bluefield State on Monday, with the start scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EST, before a trip to Alderson-Broaddus (1-11, 1-9) on Wednesday. That will be the first of four consecutive games on the road for Glenville State.

The NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene remained undefeated early in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, going on the road to beat St. Francis (Ill.) 118-109 Saturday behind a wonderful defensive effort. Yes, the naysayers out there (hello, Johnny Raincloud) would look at the 109 points given up and smirk about a lack of D. Looking a bit deeper in the box, however, shows that the Fighting Saints finished with 40 turnovers and trailed 49-13 in points off turnovers.

ONU (14-4, 2-0 CCAC) totaled 23 steals (led, again, by Danielle Pipal with five), with 13 coming in the second half following a defensive adjustment by coach Doug Porter. Without giving too much away, the Tigers essentially altered how they were forcing the action in the backcourt, which led to more effective double-teams and more opportunities to get into the passing lanes.

The result was more pace, with 27 more combined points scored after the break, even as it appeared to give St. Francis more trips to the free throw line. The Fighting Saints (7-13, 0-3) were 35-for-45 for the game, which not only allowed them an opportunity to score while the clock was stopped, but also negated somewhat ONU's depth advantage, since the St. Francis players were able to rest during the stoppages.

Still, in the end, it didn't matter much. with the Tigers picking up their fifth consecutive victory; they have averaged 117 points in that span. Here are The Formula numbers from the latest W:

- Attempted 91 shots (goal is 90)
- Attempted 43 3-pointers (goal is 45)
- Rebounded 39 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced those 40 turnovers (goal is 33)
- Attempted 29 more shots than St. Francis (goal is 15)

Rachel Kearney had 20 points for ONU, while Simone Coburn (17), Stephanie Denius (13) and Danielle Tolbert (12) also reached double figures. Coach Porter's team travels to Trinity Christian College on Tuesday, with tip scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST. Best of luck to the Tigers.

The NCAA Division III men's team at Grinnell lost its first game at home this season, with Carroll rallying late for a 105-102 victory Saturday in the Midwest Conference. This set of Pioneers (8-5, 3-5 MWC) faces a tough fight to finish in the top four and qualify for the conference tournament at the end of the season.

Here are the numbers:

- Attempted 87 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 52 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 36 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 20 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 26 more shots that Carroll

Grinnell led for the majority of the second half, until Carroll's Kyle Jones made a layup with 3:04 remaining to tie the score at 90. Carroll eventually went ahead 98-92 with 60 seconds remaining, and not even a pair of 3s from Aaron Levin down the stretch were enough.

Matt Skelly had 25 points, Levin added 21 and Griffin Lentsch finished with 19 in the losing effort. Matt Chalupa scored 10 points.

Grinnell travels to Beloit on Friday, with another conference game the next day against Lawrence. I'm rooting for coach David Arseneault's bunch to get it going in the remaining month of the schedule.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winner, winner, chicken dinner; System teams go 4-0 Friday

Some of my favorite teams got theirs Friday, as the coaches and teams who regularly are featured on this blog went unbeaten in four games. That's one college men's team (NCAA Division III Grinnell), one high school boys' team (Eisenhower, from Blue Island, Ill.) and two girls' high school teams (Galesburg, Ill., and North Shore, from Glen Head, N.Y.). Quite a night.

Let's start with where The System began, with coach David Arseneault and the Pioneers of Grinnell. They moved to 6-0 in the friendly confines of Darby Gymnasium with a 104-95 victory over Lawrence in the Midwest Conference, with Griffin Lentsch's 19 points leading five players in double figures.

The others were Matt Skelly (17 points), Aaron Levin (12), Dominique Bellamy (11) and Patrick Maher (11). Grinnell (8-4, 3-4 MWC) jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never trailed, with the margin eventually reaching 20 points in the second half. Erik Borresen had 27 points and 18 rebounds for the Vikings (6-6, 5-2).

Here are the numbers for the Pioneers:

- Attempted 80 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 52 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 41 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 23 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 18 more shots than Lawrence (goal is 25 more)

Grinnell led only 38-34 with 4:21 left in the first half before an going on an 11-0 run, highlighted by a 3 from Lentsch and a 6-for-6 performance at the free throw line. The lead was 59-44 at the break, giving the Pioneers 21 points during that stretch. Pretty amazing, right?

Coach A and the gang are back at it Saturday, hosting Carroll at 4 p.m. EST. Go Pioneers!

At Eisenhower, coach Mike Curta and the Cardinals won their second consecutive game, beating TF South 95-84 on the road to improve to 9-10 overall and 4-3 in the South Suburban Red conference. According to Coach Curta, Eisenhower is one game behind the conference leader and in control of the chase for the regular season championship. Sweet!

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that the Cardinals finished 28-for-76 from the field, including 11-for-31 from beyond the arc. My simple math tells me they made 28 free throws, too. Nice quote here from TF South's Michael Lee, who had a game-high 25 points.

"It was fun at first, until we started losing," Lee told the newspaper with a laugh. "But honestly, win or lose, that was a real fun, competitive game."

The Rebels fell to 6-13 overall and 3-4 in the conference.

Congrats to Coach Curta and his team.

Meanwhile, The System showed its true colors (as did the Silver Streaks of Galesburg) in the final 2:42 of the third quarter in Galesburg's 70-62 victory over Normal West.

The Streaks trailed 47-40 at that fateful time before unleashing what coach Evan Massey called "the most dominating basketball any Streaks team has ever played," according to his blog. Here are some of his other thoughts on that stretch, a 15-0 run that left Galesburg ahead 55-47:

Coach Massey: "Since we have gone to the System, that was the most high energy our girls have played. In the last 2:42, we had four separate shifts play. If you do the math, that means each shift lasted about 45 seconds. When each of those groups came over, they were totally gassed and could not continue. By the time we got to the end of the third quarter we did not have any of the 12 players who were ready to go back in, they had played with such energy they had to have a break."

Imagine how the players of Normal West felt? Here are Galesburg's other numbers:

- Attempted 68 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 45 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 44 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 41 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 11 more shots than Normal West (15 is the goal)

Jessica Howard and Jessica Lieber each made three 3-pointers, Jamie Johnson had nine rebounds, and point guard Tai Peachey filled up the stat sheet with five steals and five assists, both team highs. Did someone say "depth?"

The Streaks now are 18-3, one more victory than all of last season, and ready for what Coach Massey called the toughest part of their schedule. The next five games are against Morton, Rock Island, U-High, Centennial and United Township, starting with Morton on Monday at Knox College, part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday tournament.

Here's hoping Galesburg keeps it going.

The North Shore team coached by Keith Freund remained undefeated in Conference A-III with a 76-44 victory over Glen Cove, improving the Vikings to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the conference.

Amanda Johansen had 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for North Shore, and Nicole Scuderi scored a career-high 12 points and added six steals. This one appears to have been won in the second and third quarters, when the Vikings outscored Glen Cove 49-22.

According to the ol' schedule, North Shore returns to action Tuesday at home against Valley Stream South, which is 4-1 in the conference. It should be a good test for Coach Freund's team, and I wish them the best of luck.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Galesburg HS again ties state record, Eisenhower HS gets nice victory

Will it ever get old? I doubt it. For the third time this season, the girls' team at Galesburg (Ill.) HS made 21 3-pointers in a single game, tying its state record set earlier this season in a 90-45 victory over Quincy on Thursday night in the Western Big 6 conference.

Eight different players made at least one 3: Jessica Howard (eight), Jessica Lieber (five), Mickey Rodriguez (three), Megan Young (two), Jamie Johnson (one), Myra Diggins (one) and Sharron Diggins (one). Here are the other stats for the Streaks (17-3, 5-1 WB6):

- Attempted 76 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 59 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 36 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 30 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 10 more shots than Quincy (goal is 15)

Here's some individual numbers:

Rebounds - Johnson nine and Sadee Hamilton six
Assists - Paige Klinck eight and Tai Peachey seven
Steals - Howard four, with Lieber and Young adding three each.

All in all, a great night for coach Evan Massey and his team. The Streaks now are leading the WB6 standings by a half-game over Rock Island. Galesburg stepped out of conference Friday night to play Normal West at home, and I'll have the results this weekend.

Meanwhile, the boys' team at Eisenhower HS in Blue Island, Ill., got back on a winning note, beating Bremen on the road 91-85. This likely was particularly special for Cardinals coach Mike Curta, who previously coached at Bremen.

Here are the numbers for the Cardinals:

- Attempted 84 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 47 3-pointers, or 56 percent of total shots (goal is 40 percent)
- Rebounded 37 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 35 percent)
- Forced 28 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 34 more shots than Bremen (goal is 24)

Nice bounce back for Coach Curta and his team. They traveled to TF South on Friday, so check back in for the results. I wish Eisenhower the best of luck.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ONU wins CCAC opener easily, Grinnell takes a loss on the road

Anyone who ever has read this blog knows how The System allows a coach, and a team, to spread the love among the entire roster. And by love I mean points, rebounds, assists and steals. You know, playing time, run. It is one of the beauties of this style, and easily my favorite facet.

Sure, I love the 3-pointers, and the high scoring, yet the most perfect part of teams employing this is how so many players are a part of any success. The NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene proved this again Tuesday night.

The Tigers trailed only twice -- the final time at 9-8 -- and pulled away in the second half to beat Roosevelt University 120-84 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. It was ONU's first CCAC game; the Lakers had won their first conference game, beating St. Francis 87-66 last Saturday.

Here is what the Tigers (13-4, 1-0 CCAC) did:

- Attempted 94 shots
- Attempted 56 3-pointers
- Rebounded 38 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 39 turnovers
- Attempted 12 more shots than Roosevelt (12-6, 1-1)

Individually, the numbers speak for themselves. ONU sent 16 players on the court at one time or another, each for at least 8 minutes and no one for more than 15. Seven different players scored in double figures, led by Miranda Geever's 16 points and followed by Danielle Pipal (14), Malory Adam (14), Holly Schact (12), Lexie Heinold (12), Stephanie Denius (12) and Simone Coburn (11). Three players -- Geever, Rachel Kearney and Lisa Beyer -- finished with four steals apiece. Five different players totaled at least five rebounds, led by seven from Denius. Oh, and three players made four 3-pointers apiece (Schacht, Adam and Heinold).

Amazing, right? Nice effort for coach Doug Porter and his team. They stay in the CCAC with a trip to St. Francis on Saturday, with the opening tip scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The best of luck to the Tigers.

At Grinnell, the NCAA Division III men's team fell behind early and never really recovered, losing on the road to Illinois College 104-92 in the Midwest Conference on Tuesday. The Blueboys (9-2, 5-1 MWC) shot 62.5 percent for the game and led by at least 10 points over the final 14 minutes or so.

Here are the numbers for the Pioneers (7-4, 2-4):

- Attempted 89 shots
- Attempted 51 3-pointers
- Rebounded 40 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 28 turnovers
- Attempted 25 more shots that Illinois College

Patrick Maher led Grinnell with 24 points, followed by Aaron Levin (21 points, all on his seven 3s) and Griffin Lentsch (16). The Pioneers host conference foe Lawrence on Friday, followed by a visit from Carroll on Saturday. Here's hoping coach David Arseneault and his team get it going again. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Glenville State snaps losing skid; North Shore HS dominating

The NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State ended a two-game losing streak with an emphatic 89-74 victory over the University of Charleston on Monday night in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Pioneers (9-5, 7-2) rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half to win for the first time since Dec. 18.

Tenisha Wilson led the way with 19 points and eight assists, while Mishae Miles added 14 points and Kenyell Goodson had 11. Here are the relevant stats:

- Attempted 90 shots
- Attempted 34 3-pointers
- Rebounded 39 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 29 turnovers
- Attempted 15 more shots than the Golden Eagles

Charleston (9-5, 5-3) jumped to a 25-11 lead 8 minutes into the game on a jumper by Tiana Beatty, leading to a 30-second timeout by Glenville State coach Bunky Harkleroad. He must have worked his magic, since the Pioneers rallied to within six points by the end of the first half.

They took their first lead of the second half on a 3-pointer from Goodson to make it 50-48, then moved in front to stay about 5 minutes later when Goodson worked inside for a layup. The score was 63-61 at that point, and Glenville State steadily pulled away down the stretch.

Nice W for Coach Harkleroad and his team, who stay at home to face Bluefield State on Thursday night. Game time for that one is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EST, so check back in for an update.

Meanwhile, the girls' team at North Shore HS in Glen Head, N.Y., continue to roll with the start of conference play. The Vikings are 5-2 overall this season and 3-0 in Conference A-III, and coach Keith Freund's team is coming off two impressive outings.

On Jan. 6, North Shore won at Great Neck North 77-48, and as the saying goes, it likely wasn't that close. The Vikings led 25-2 after the first quarter, leading Coach Freund to really call off the dogs the rest of the way. The result was similar two days before at West Hempstead: the lead after one quarter this time was 21-2, on the way to a final of 67-24.

Coach Freund reports North Shore is ranked second in Nassau County and fourth on Long Island (among public schools) by, an independent Website covering, well, high school hoops in that area. The Vikings were back at it Tuesday night at home against Floral Park, the only other undefeated team in the conference. C'mon back to see how they did.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

ONU, Galesburg HS roll to victories; Glenville State, Eisenhower HS lose

The NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene returned to action from the holiday break Saturday, and the results nearly were the same was when we left the Tigers. They jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back, beating Lindenwood-Belleville 118-69 in the friendly confines of McHie Arena.

This appears to have been a perfect way to get back into the swing of The System; Lindenwood-Belleville (4-16) is a program in its infancy, so it is likely the players weren't quite ready for the type of pressure ONU was going to bring. The margin quickly ballooned in the first half, going from 13-2 to 23-4 before it stabilized a bit with Tigers coach Doug Porter subbing even more liberally than normal: all 15 players saw between 6 and 8 minutes of run, and that continued for the remainder of the game.

Lexie Heinold made the most of her time, making six 3-pointers and finishing with 18 points to lead ONU. Five teammates joined her in double figures, including Holly Schacht (15 points), Simone Coburn (14), Taylor Haymes (12, all on 3s), Malory Adam (11) and Stephanie Denius (10).

Danielle Pipal, whom I enjoy referring to as the "glue" for the team, got hers in only 10 minutes of play, finishing with six points, three rebounds (all offensive), three assists and NINE steals. Pretty amazing, right? Lisa Beyer dropped five dimes (assists, remember?) and added four steals for Coach Porter.

Here are The Formula stats:

- Attempted 111 shots
- Attempted 73 3-pointers
- Rebounded 45 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 42 turnovers
- Attempted 35 more shots than the Lynx

All in all, a nice effort for the Tigers, who have averaged 116 points in their three-game winning streak that began on the trip to Hawaii. They open Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference play Tuesday night, at home, against Roosevelt University, with tip scheduled for 8 p.m. EST. Best of luck to Coach Porter and ONU.

At Galesburg (Ill.) HS on Saturday, the girls' team coached by Evan Massey continued to march through its schedule, improving to 16-3 with a 68-48 non-conference victory over Queen of Peace. The Streaks trailed at the half after an uninspired effort in the opening two quarters before responding with a dominant third quarter: they outscored the Pride 24-8 to regain control and held on to win their 11th consecutive game.

Jessica Howard and Paige Klinck each made four 3-pointers as Galesburg finished 14-for-61 on the game, guaranteeing free cheeseburgers for the members of its "Three-diculous" club at school. Oh, c'mon, surely you know that anytime the Streaks make at least 13 3s, the local McDonald's donates the burgers to the members? OK, good, you had me worried.

Here are the other stats:

- Attempted 77 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 61 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 31 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 32 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 34 more shots than Queen of Peace (goal is 20)

Nice effort for the Streaks, who host Quincy on Thursday night in the Western Big 6. Go, Galesburg!

Meanwhile, things didn't go quite so well for the NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State, who lost its second consecutive game on the road in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on Saturday, falling to conference leader West Liberty 84-63.

The Hilltoppers (11-1, 6-0 WVIAC) used a 15-2 run early in the game to take control, then steadily pulled away in the second half. Danielle Woodmore led the Pioneers (8-5, 6-2) with 16 points, with Tenisha Wilson and Kristen Golden adding 13 apiece.

The Formula:

- Attempted 91 shots
- Attempted 19 3-pointers (only made one)
- Rebounded 37 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 24 turnovers
- Attempted 13 more shots than West Liberty

Coach Bunky Harkleroad and his team return to the court Monday, at home, against Charleston, the beginning of a busy week at home. Bluefield State comes into town Thursday, followed by Fairmont State next Saturday. Here's hoping Glenville State gets rolling again.

The boys' team at Eisenhower HS in Blue Island, Ill., lost a tough one Friday night to defending Class 3A state champ Hillcrest 90-72. Here were the numbers:

- Attempted 73 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 35 3-pointers (goal is 40 percent of total shots, this was 51 percent)
- Rebounded 25 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 24 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted four fewer shots than Hillcrest (goal is 24 more)

Here is the report from coach Mike Curta: "Best team that we will play all year and it was obvious. Their Division I point guard was unflustered all night. We just aren’t at the point where we will 'let go' and take chances, gamble and be aggressive. We play tentative, 'not to get beat' too much in the press and we lose our edge. We will get there for several possessions but definitely not enough to overcome the disparity in talent that we saw tonight.

"They also had a D-I big, 6-foot-6 who we didn’t challenge and make work enough up and down the floor. Just got physically dominated which has happened a few times with the number of sophomores that we put out on the floor.

"Not crushed or terribly disappointed, I know that we will get better with System basketball. One of the things that we cannot make big strides in right now is our lack of strength and fundamental skill in our young kids. That will show in a big jump over the offseason we anticipate with these kids."

Next up for the the Cardinals is a trip to Bremen on Wednesday, where Coach Curta previously coached. Hope he and Eisenhower get it going again.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Galesburg HS keeps on Streak-ing, Eisenhower HS readies for challenge

In the finale of the 2009-10 season, the Moline (Ill.) girls' basketball ran past Galesburg 97-53, the largest loss of the season for coach Evan Massey and the Streaks. Well, they got a little payback Thursday night, beating the Maroons 62-53 behind 13 points from Jamie Johnson and contributions from a host of others.

Galesburg's 10th victory in a row was the first over Moline in four years and left the Streaks (15-3, 4-1 Western Big 6) a half-game behind league leader Rock Island (5-1).

After the Maroons (10-11, 3-2) closed within 53-56 with about 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Johnson corralled an offensive rebound and found teammate Mickey Rodriguez lurking at the 3-point line. The senior made her shot for a five-point margin and Galesburg made 6-of-8 at the line down the stretch to hold on.

Here are Coach Massey's comments from his blog: "Not our best game of the year but a good road win. There are MANY things I like about this team. But one of the things I like about this team is their enthusiasm. I think it comes from them caring about each other. After the win, after they shook hands, it was so exciting to see our players hugging the coaches and hugging each other. As hard as they have worked in the offseason and during this season, it is good to see how much they enjoy their successes."

Word that. Here is the Formula stuff:

- Attempted 55 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 23 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 58 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 21 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted four more shots than Moline (goal is 15)

So, much as Grinnell did a night earlier, Galesburg found a way to win when The System was taken away by an opponent. Nice going. The Streaks host Queen of Peace at 2:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, and I wish them the best of luck.

Hey, remember the Eisenhower HS boys' team from Blue Island, Ill.? The first-year System team coached by Mike Curta? Yeah, I figured you did.

Well, over the Holidays, they went through an amazing streak of games, six in seven days during one stretch, followed by another tournament featuring back-to-back games less than a week later. All this denied Coach Curta the necessary practice time to make adjustments, make improvements and otherwise coach his team.

And, really, Eisenhower (7-9) didn't need much tweaking on the offensive end, at least on its effort from the 3-point line. The Cardinals are 225-for-796 from beyond the arc, on pace to set state records for both numbers and should at least challenge the national marks, as well. Pretty impressive.

Coach Curta and his team face a tough challenge Friday night, defending Class 3A state champ Hillcrest travels to play on Eisenhower's home court. Game time was scheduled for 8 p.m. EST, and I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Now, as he has all season, Coach Curta was kind enough to give us a glimpse into what he worked on with his team during its recent practice sessions. This included some suggestions from System guru Gary Smith, the retired coach from the University of the Redlands, and Coach Massey. This is great stuff, so please pay attention:

Coach Curta: "We had a really solid six days of practice since last Friday. We spent quite a bit of time watching video of our games over Christmas and really tried to get the kids to see what was happening on the floor and then tell us what were the good things and what we needed to work on. I’ve always thought that when the kids respond initially to what they see on video with their thoughts it gives our team much better insight into where we are at.

"Once on the floor, we tried to keep things simple and work on refining those few things that we are really trying to do well. We incorporated more varied shooting drills to try and simulate getting quality shots up while going at our pace. They were also more competitive than we had been doing which got the kids juices flowing. Coach Smith was a great help to us with a couple of ideas that I think will help us on both offense and defense. I went back to the message board and printed out all of his messages and our staff bounced around some of the things that he had found successful with his group at Redlands.

"Offensively we are, as always, concentrating on the speed with which we convert from defense to offense. We also tweaked a few things with our 2 man diving back through the lane if we are unable to get him an open look off the staggers, or we are unable to get a slip. In addition, we have really been pushing our point guards to be more aggressive in looking to score first.

"Defensively we were able to spend more time with our presses, particularly our STAY call. We spent most of our time in this area walking through ball movement and rotations so that the kids could see how we need to be more aggressive. Coach Massey’s 5-on-4 drill with a coach inbounding and dictating various offensive looks for the defense was really helpful to the kids.

"As far as (Friday), we play a conference opponent who is the defending 3A state champion and is currently having another great season….I think that they have something like 23 or 24 straight seasons of 20 wins or more. This is the game that I have been looking forward to the most because they are really good, well coached, they like to pressure and run, and it will be a great challenge for us. It also has put our kids in the spotlight this week.

"We started late last week with a big spread in one of our major papers here in Chicago. Then we started getting calls from television outlets telling us that they have heard about our style of play and had an interest in coming out to see our kids. There was an interview for a high school sports show in the area on Monday. Next Comcast Sports came out on Wednesday for a feature that they will be doing on their highlight show next Friday night. Finally, our local NBC morning show gave us some notice as their game of the week tonight.

"Everyone has been very complimentary and what has stood out for all of them is the fact that all of the kids are playing and we are having fun playing the game of basketball. Now if we can string some wins together we will really have something going here in Blue Island!"

Wow, I spoke the truth, right? Best of luck to Coach Curta and the Cardinals.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Grinnell back in action with a W

After nearly a month off for the holidays -- at least from games -- the NCAA Division III men's team at Grinnell returned to the court with a tough 98-93 victory over Beloit on Wednesday night in Midwest Conference play at Darby Gymnasium. Griffin Lentsch led way with 22 points, Matt Skelly had 21 and Matt Chalupa scored 14 of his 17 in the first half for the Pioneers (7-3, 2-3 MWC).

Freshman Aaron Levin added 13 points and made two clutch free throws with with 29 seconds remaining in the game to give Grinnell that 98-93 lead. Beloit's Michael Horton turned it over on the other end, and despite Skelly missing a pair at the line, the Pioneers hung on.

Kind of a weird game for The System. At the half, Grinnell led 63-51, well on pace for a typical scoring game. And the Buccaneers (3-7, 2-3) finished the opening 20 minutes with 19 turnovers, so the pressure clearly was having an effect. It was much the same after the break, with the Pioneers sprinting to an 17-point lead with 12 minutes left in the game thanks to Chalupa's only points of the half, a 3-pointer to make it 84-67.

So, let's see, 84 points with 12 minutes left, after scoring 21 points in the first 8 minutes. Pretty nice. Not sure what happened after that, since Grinnell managed only 14 points the rest of the way. Not bad for most teams, just not on the usual pace of the nation's highest-scoring team.

Oh, well, at least coach David Arseneault and his team came up with a W in their return to the court. Here are your Formula numbers:

- Attempted 75 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 43 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 36 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 31 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted five more shots than Beloit (goal is 25)

I tend to look at most things, particularly my favorite men's college team, with a "glass-half-full" approach, so it's striking that the Pioneers won this game while failing to reach four of the five goals. Remember, when they reach all five, they win about 95 percent of the time.

Coach A and the boys have a little more time off, getting back at it on the road at Illinois College (7-2, 3-1) on Tuesday night. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST, and you know I'll be following the action. Good luck, Grinnell.

Also on Wednesday, the NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State had its five-game winning streak come to an end on the road at Shepherd University in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Rams won 102-93, holding off a furious rally by coach Bunky Harkleroad's bunch.

The Pioneers (8-4, 6-1 WVIAC) trailed 73-55 with 14:26 left in the game after Shepherd's Hannah Safren completed a personal 5-0 run with a 3-pointer. The margin still was 11 about 7 minutes later before Glenville State really turned it on -- a 12-2 spurt cut that to a single point, thanks to eights points from Danielle Woodmore.

It was nip and tuck over the next few minutes, with the Pioneers getting within one again at 94-93 with about 90 seconds remaining on LaToya Hambrick's layup. But the Rams (8-3, 6-1) went 8-for-8 at the line down the stretch to complete the scoring, with Glenville State unable to add to its total.

Great comeback for Coach Harkleroad and his team, just too bad they couldn't quite complete it. Here are the goals:

- Attempted 93 shots
- Attempted 29 3-pointers (made only five)
- Rebounded 36 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 30 turnovers
- Attempted 23 more shots than Shepherd

Next up for the Pioneers is another road game, this time at West Liberty, at 5-0 the only remaining team unbeaten in the conference. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST. The best of luck to them.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

MVP Howard, Peachey lead Galesburg to tourney title

The final statistics might not have screamed "SYSTEM," as they did when the girls' team at Galesburg (Ill.) HS set and then tied a state record for 3-pointers in a single game twice in one day, the day before the final. Yet the result was all the same -- the Streaks came out on top.

Tourney Most Valuable Player Jessica Howard had 23 points, point guard Tai Peachey missed only one of her 10 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter and Galesburg held on to beat Teutopolis 79-67 in the championship game of the Charleston Holiday Tournament last Wednesday at Eastern Illinois University.

Peachey added six rebounds and three steals on her way to the all-tournament team, where she was joined by Howard and Jamie Johnson. The Streaks (14-3) have won their past 10 games, a great run of success for coach Evan Massey and his players. The most recent one wasn't easy. The Wooden Shoes of T-Town (12-2) were ranked seventh in the state in Class 2A and had about 2,000 of their fans in attendance hoping to will them to victory.

The opening possession set the tone. According to Coach Massey's blog, Teutopolis started four players 5-foot-10 or taller, while Galesburg doesn't have anyone that tall. Yet after winning the opening tip, the Steaks got off four 3-pointers (and rebounded the first three), with Howard making the final one for a quick 3-0 lead.

It was that type of effort that helped Galesburg win a holiday tournament for the first time since 1999. With the Wooden Shoes frantically denying as many opportunities as possible from beyond the arc, The Formula numbers are a bit skewed. Here they are:

- Attempted 52 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 27 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 43 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 28 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted three less shots than T-Town (goal is plus-20)

Coach Massey wrote on the blog that Wooden Shoes point guard Jessie Wendt was one of the top players his team had faced all season, and she was everywhere in the first half that ended with the Streaks leading 39-38. The pace took its toll on Wendt and her teammates in the final two quarters, allowing Galesburg to pull away.

Who could blame them? Both teams played four games in three days, and since Galesburg was able to go 15-deep in both of its outings the day before, its players were better prepared for the final. Another bonus of The System.

A huge congrats to Coach Massey and the Streaks. They return to action Thursday, traveling to Western Big 6 conference foe Moline, with opening tip scheduled for 8 p.m. EST. Good luck to them.

With the holidays now over and the world comfortably in 2011, the schedule gets busy again this week. The NCAA Division III men's team at Grinnell gets back at it Wednesday with a visit from Midwest Conference opponent Beloit, the NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State travels to Shepherd in a West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game that same night and the NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene hosts Lindenwood-Belleville on Saturday.

All our favorite high school teams get going again, too, so check back in for updates. A belated Happy New Year to everyone.