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.

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