After the holiday break, the Illinois Valley Central girls' basketball team cannot catch a break.
The team lost to Galesburg, 69-49, Jan. 7 on the road.
"We played well," coach Marc Lowe said. "They had a really good shooter that hit some big threes on us and then they hit free throws down the stretch. They got us with those free throws in the fourth quarter."
Things did not start rough for the Ghosts as the offense came out of the gates hot.
Erica Larson and Hallie Shirley racked up points for the Ghosts when they popped shots over defenders and drove to the hoop.
Shirley ended the game with 18 points and Larson had 13.
The defense, however, could not slow the offensive output of Galesburg and the team fell behind, 15-12, after the opening quarter.
Both sides slowed in the second quarter and, despite the Ghosts outscoring Galesburg during the frame, IVC trailed 23-21 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Ghosts put up a respectable offensive showing but Galesburg exploded for 24 points.
The Ghost offense never slowed throughout the final 16 minutes but the defense allowed Galesburg to rack up 46 points to cruise to the win.
The week did not get better when the team lost to Dunlap, 54-29.
"They came out and jumped on us right away," Lowe said. "We kind of went into panic mode and never could recover in that game."
Dunlap quickly established a lead with a run-and-gun offense that sliced through the lanes of the Ghost defense to put the ball in the hoop in the post.
IVC's offense could not match the intensity of the Eagles and had trouble consistently setting up plays.
Bad passes and speedy pressure from the Eagles led to Ghost turnovers that Dunlap easily turned into points.
By halftime, Dunlap led 31-9.
In the third quarter, the team attempted to begin a comeback offensively with smart moves from Shayna VanOstrand.
VanOstrand, who led the team with seven points, moved the ball around the perimeter to open teammates and took high-percentage shots when the opportunities arose.
Despite the great offensive play for the eight minutes, the defense still gave up more points than the offense could score and Dunlap cruised to a win.
The team got back in the win column Saturday with a 52-36 victory over Stillman Valley at home.
"That was a good game to bounce back with," Lowe said. "We got banged up in the Dunlap game and didn't have Erica Larson for Saturday's game. We didn't have Bria Kohlman either, she was home with the flu."
Page 2 of 2 - Larson was injured in the Dunlap game.
From the get-go, the Ghost offense established a rhythm of passing around the defense to find an open shot.
Brooke Rudolph and Shirley could do no wrong offensively and knocked down shots from the perimeter over defenders to tie for the scoring lead with 14 points each during the game.
Defensively, the team disrupted Stillman Valley with speedy pressure to force turnovers and bad shots.
At halftime, the team was leading 25-16.
Needing to keep the pressure on Stillman Valley, the Ghosts exploded in the third quarter for the best offensive output of the game.
For eight minutes, the Ghost offense could not be stopped from scoring wherever it chose to put up a shot.
Candis Rudolph dashed through open lanes to pop in shots from mid-range to help the team create more separation from their Stillman Valley opponents.
In the final frame, the teams matched each other shot for shot to give IVC the win.
"The kids did really and responded well after the Dunlap game and for not having all our players," Lowe said. "I told them that we are kind of playing good game, bad game, good game, bad game and we have to build consistency. It is always going to be a team effort. I pointed out in a team meeting that we don't have one player who can take over a game so we have to play as a team."
The team next plays at 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Princeton.
"I think we have got to keep our focus on what we are doing," Lowe said. "They know the game of basketball is a game of runs. They are going to make their runs and we are going to make ours. We just have to make sure that our runs are bigger and that we hold them on theirs.
"Our inside play has to be a lot better too. Down the stretch, that has to be consistent to open up the outside of the court."
The team will host East Peoria at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on Senior Night.
Before the game, the senior class of Anna Parr, Brooke Rudolph, Kohlman, Brenna Garner and Sarah Lawson will be honored.