While the regular season may be slowing down, the Illinois Valley Central basketball team is doing no such thing. In fact, the Ghosts are heating up.
IVC beat Streator at home Jan. 29, 55-45.
"I thought we played really hard," coach Joe Mintus said. "Defensively, we really worked hard. We just missed a lot of shots early that made it a closer game than it could have been. We missed shots that we usually make. We missed five or six layups that we usually don't miss.
"We found a way to win though. That's the encouraging part of the game."
The Ghost offense set the tempo from the early goings by knocking down tough shots over Streator defenders and weaving through the lane to put the rock in at the hoop.
Instead of one player dominating offensively, it was the trio of AJ Johnson, Reilly Owens and Ryan Beard that spelled doom for Streator's defense.
"We scored a lot of points in transition and Ryan really had a nice game," Mintus said. "AJ and Reilly have been pretty much steady for us all year. They give us something that we need every night."
Owens, Johnson and Beard's shot selection and offensive intensity helped them lead the team with 11 points each for the game.
While the offense put its foot on the gas pedal to start, the defense struggled and allowed Streator to hang close throughout the first half.
At the midway point, IVC led 26-21.
Like the Bulldogs that Streator is named after, the team's tenacity came through and the team was able to tie the game in the third quarter.
Streator picked high-percentage shots and overpowered the Ghost defense in the third quarter to tie the game at 36 with eight minutes left.
Down the stretch, the Ghost offense roared to life with its best quarter of the game.
Whether it was blasting in shots from the perimeter or driving to the hoop, the Ghost defense ran over Streator to go on a 19-9 run that ensured an IVC victory.
The game was the only Ghost contest for the week.
"We have done a lot of preparing," Mintus said. "I gave them Thursday night off to get away from basketball for a day. At this point of the year, you need to do that sometimes. We have just been getting ready for the coming week."
The team next plays at 6 p.m. Friday at home against North Central Illinois conference rival Princeton.
"I really like how we are defending right now," Mintus said. "We are getting out and guarding at full-court and speeding teams up. We just have to keep defending. We will get our scoring, we just have to keep defending like we are."