Galesburg survives Grey Ghosts' second-half effort

The Illinois Valley Central boys basketball team may have been beaten down early in Saturday’s contest against Galesburg, but the Grey Ghosts didn’t go quietly into the night.

Sure, the Silver Streaks put IVC in a tight spot with a 20-point first quarter, but a second half push from the Grey Ghosts put the pressure on the Streaks, whose double-digit lead dwindled to single digits at one point.

Nevertheless, the Streaks survived the rally, crashing IVC’s Senior Night and taking a 52-38 win, dealing IVC (3-20, 2-12) its 15th straight loss.

“I thought (IVC) really competed in the second half against a really good team,” said IVC coach Joe Mintus. “That was the biggest thing, that we competed. I thought we competed hard. (Galesburg) missed some shots and we got some rebounds, and that’s what we’ve been preaching all year.”

Galesburg came out of the gate shooting, notching 20 points to IVC’s five, courtesy of four 3-pointers on eight attempts.

On the other side of the court, the Grey Ghosts’ five points — all from senior Mason Schaub — came on just six shot attempts.

IVC managed to crack double digits in the second quarter, however. Senior Matt Keffeler shot 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the second quarter alone, but the Streaks still maintained a strong lead, up 33-17 at halftime.

The tide shifted in the second half, however, as IVC held the Streaks to just seven points in the third frame.

Meanwhile, the Grey Ghosts mounted a third-quarter rally, hitting 13 points — including another 6-for-6 free-throw performance, this time from sophomore Jordan Mercer — to narrow Galesburg’s lead to 10 points, down 40-30 headed into the fourth quarter.

IVC cut the Streaks’ lead to eight points with a Schaub layup to open the fourth quarter, but Galesburg junior Joe Williams helped put the game away by knocking down two more 3-pointers — totalling six on the evening — to keep the Streaks ahead until the final buzzer.

“He bailed us out, to be honest,” Galesburg coach Mike Reynolds said of Williams’ game. “That’s why we kind of got in trouble last year, we were always looking for someone to bail us out. You start doing that in the postseason, it usually doesn’t end up well.”

On the other bench, Mintus praised the Grey Ghosts’ effort, despite the final score.

“(The Grey Ghosts) tried their best,” Mintus said of IVC’s second-half effort. “... They just fell short.”

If anything, Mintus said, the rally spoke to the Grey Ghosts’ drive to compete even when they’ve been counted out.

“I just got done telling the seniors, they’re going to be successful in life because a lot of people would have quit,” Mintus said. “Three wins, haven’t won a game since Dec. 16, a lot of guys just wouldn’t have shown up for practice. These guys still practice hard. They practice hard and play hard; they do everything I ask them to do. We just haven’t been able to score enough points and get enough stops, and that’s part of the game.”

Keffeler led the Grey Ghosts with 16 points, followed by Schaub with 13 and Mercer with nine.

The Grey Ghosts will play their final game of the regular season at Mahomet-Seymour at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Fifth-seeded IVC will open postseason action against No. 4 Dunlap at 7 p.m. March 2 at the IHSA Class 3A Regional at Mendota.

The winner will move on to face No. 1 Metamora at 6 p.m. March 3.