Ghosts take down Princeton Tigers
After a close loss to Rock Falls, the Ghosts looked to rebound on the road against Putnam County.
Instead, they ended up suffering an embarrassing 52-27 loss.
Illinois Valley Central started the game ice cold, clanking out baskets due to poor shot selection.
Putnam County, meanwhile, had come out shooting with a hot hand and took a 16-6 lead after the first quarter.
The Ghost defense saw no improvement in the second quarter, allowing Putnam County to score almost at will.
Offensively, the Ghosts suffered from turnovers and poor rebounding.
IVC found itself trailing at half, 30-13.
The start of the third quarter saw a slight awakening from the Ghost defense, which managed to hold Putnam County to under 10 points for the only time in the game.
Offensively, however, the Ghosts could still not find a rhythm, despite senior Terell Williams’ game-high six-points.
IVC trailed going into the fourth quarter, 39-20.
Needing a Herculean effort to make a comeback, the Ghosts did not manage anything close to that, falling victim to the same defensive lapses and offensive woes that plagued them all game.
The Ghosts returned home Friday in an attempt to regain the winning feeling when they took on the North Central Illinois Conference-Lincoln Division foe Princeton Tigers.
Spurred on by Princeton turnovers, the Ghosts jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, IVC racked up two points when Williams drove strong to the hoop and was fouled on the play.
Williams then calmly knocked in his free throw to help the Ghosts pile on points.
As time expired in the first quarter, senior Billy Seiler made a buzzer-beating three pointer to put the Ghosts up, 17-9.
The Tigers used their impressive three-point shooting and full-court press to begin to mount a comeback in the second quarter.
“We wanted to be more patient offensively because their press tries to speed you up,” coach Jim Thornton said.
After being down 20-11, the Tigers scored the next nine points to tie the game and eventually take a 27-25 lead into halftime.
Trailing to start the second half, the Ghosts used three pointers by Seiler and senior Jordan Parr to regain the lead.
Defensively, the Ghosts kept the Princeton offense from finding a rhythm in the third quarter.
“I thought we defended well,” Thornton said. “We rebounded the ball well, too.”
The teams headed into what promised to be a classic final quarter with IVC leading, 36-31.
The Ghosts used their pressure defense to keep the Tigers from getting good looks at the basket, while their own offense calmly made clutch shots.
Late in the quarter, Princeton knocked down a three pointer to pull within one, 41-40.
Junior Chris Martin responded for the Ghosts by calmly sinking two free throws to give them a three-point lead.
With 47 seconds left, the Tigers made two free throws to put them back within one point.
Seiler then took over for IVC and made both of his free throws.
IVC received its final scare when the Tigers made a two pointer with 8.3 seconds left to put them within one point of the Ghosts.
Keegan Horack then closed the game out for IVC by making one of his free throws.
The Ghosts won the game, 46-44.
“Our guys were resilient tonight,” Thornton said. “We haven’t played well the last two games, but I told our guys that everyone goes through a funk.”
With the win over Princeton, the Ghosts were assured a piece of the conference championship, with Rock Falls and Spring Valley Hall still in the running to tie for the championship.
The Ghosts had little time to celebrate their piece of the championship because the next day, they participated in the NCIC Shootout, taking on Sterling.
The game opened with offensive fireworks for both teams.
IVC used good ball movement and smart shot selection to knock down shot after shot, but still found itself down 23-21 after the quarter.
IVC’s offense came out a little more subdued in the second quarter, committing too many turnovers and taking too many poor shots.
Despite Seiler’s game-high 26 points, the Ghosts were trailing 39-31 at halftime.
The IVC offense finally overpowered Sterling in the third quarter.
Defensively, the Ghosts created turnovers that kept Sterling from creating any kind of offensive rhythm.
Going into the final quarter, IVC was behind, 49-44.
After playing catch up all game, the Ghosts took over the fourth quarter by holding Sterling to its worst quarter.
Offensively, Seiler and Parr seemed to be swishing home shots from everywhere.
The Ghosts won the game, 61-58, to become the only winners from their conference in the tournament.
IVC played Tuesday at home against Canton.
The Ghosts will close out the season with Senior Night against conference rival Spring Valley Hall at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“I want to use that game as a springboard for Regional,” Thornton said of the Hall game. “It’s good to play a big game before Regional.”