Illinois Valley Central's basketball team is already deep into the 2012-13 season with four games under its belt.
The team started the year with a 56-49 loss to Rockville, Ind., in the Tournament of Champions at Washington Nov. 21.
"We competed well in that one," coach Joe Mintus said. "They are the No. 1 team in Indiana so they are really good. They went on a few runs and we had some breakdowns on defense.
"We did an alright job, they are just really good. Our bench played really well in that game, that was something I was really happy with."
Rockville jumped out to an early lead in the opening quarter and extended it to 25-15 by halftime.
Caleb Magee, who led the team with 10 points, helped the Ghosts to their best offensive half in the third and fourth quarters by knocking down quality shots and slinging passes to open teammates.
The Ghosts, however, were unable to slow down Rockville and lost.
The team then began the home Thanksgiving Tournament Friday with the first win of Mintus' IVC career.
IVC opened the tournament by beating El Paso-Gridley, 72-66.
"That was a hard fought game," Mintus said. "That game showed a lot of the character of our team. Our bench again really played well in that game. That is a boost for us."
"It was exciting to get the first win. The kids were excited and us coaches made a big deal about it in the locker room afterwards. They always say that first win is the hardest."
The run and gun offense of IVC started knocking down shots early to take a 17-10 lead after the opening quarter.
Konnor Smthson kept the offense popping in the second quarter by making shot after shot to lead the team with 19 points for the game.
El Paso, however, had its best offensive quarter to cut IVC's lead to 33-32 at halfitme.
The teams traded points throughout the third quarter with neither defense being able to crack the code of the other's offense.
Ryan Beard proved key for the Ghosts with big shots over defenders to keep the Ghost offense rolling in the second half.
Beard finished with 18 points for the game.
Going into the final quarter, IVC clutched a 53-48 lead.
In the final frame, the teams went back and forth with scoring but IVC was able to outscore El Paso by one to cling to the lead.
The team then fell to Eureka, 67-60, Saturday in the second round of the tournament.
"They started four sophomores last year and got those back this year so they are a good team," Mintus said. "We had a tough time stopping dribble penetration in that game. We had some breakdowns in key situations that hurt us. If we got a stop here or there it could have been different."
Page 2 of 2 - Both sides matched each other shot for shot throughout the opening frame and found themselves tied at 14.
The second quarter was almost a repeat of the first but IVC found a way to squeak out a 28-27 lead at halftime.
Throughout the first half, Ben Rashid continually found the hoop from all over the court and helped IVC find its way to the halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, the Ghost offense had its lowest output of the game while the Hornets were able to reclaim the lead.
Trailing by four heading into the final quarter, the Ghost defense collapsed and allowed Eureka to rack up 24 points.
While IVC put up 21 points for the quarter, it was not enough to overcome the defensive lapses.
The team responded with a 76-43 drubbing of Olympia that night to close the tournament.
"We didn't play real well in the first half with it being the second game of the day and the kids had just watched Eureka win the tournament in the game before us," Mintus said. "We went through the motions in the first half but the intensity picked up in the second half."
The game was close throughout the opening quarter but IVC was able to create some separation with AJ Johnson making tough baskets over opponents.
Johnson went on to lead the team in scoring with 14 points.
IVC kept the offensive pressure up and gained a 31-24 lead by halftime.
In the third and fourth quarter, the Ghost offense was red hot and put up 45 points.
Reginald helped the team step on the Olympia defense with smart passes and strong drives past defenders to rack up 10 points.
The team cruised to the win, which gave IVC a second place finish in the tournament.
"The strength of this team right now is that we are very deep," Mintus said. "We can very easily play all of the 14 guys that are dressed and have success with any of the guys on the floor."
The team will next play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Bede.
"We need to work on our defense," Mintus said. "We are trying to press and we've got some turnovers but we have to work on slowing down teams scoring layups on us. That will come.
"Our kids are still learning a new system. We are trying to run and play fast and that is something that is new to them."