|POSTED 10:45 a-m, UPDATED 11:18 a-m 12/17/09 Moline's girls basketball team is unquestionably the cream of the crop in the Western Big Six Conference, but Rock Island Alleman is serving notice that it's not too shabby either and Galesburg will find out first-hand Thursday night.
The Pioneers, after winning just one of four games to begin the season, have found a groove under coach Jay Hatch. Alleman won its seventh straight game, 59-47, last Saturday against Peoria Notre Dame in the King/Mid-Winter Classic. The Pioneers improved to 8-4 on the season. That includes a 2-1 mark in league play with back-to-back wins at United Township, 53-51 December 3rd, and 59-50 at home against Quincy a week later.
Moline won 37-25 at Alleman for the Pioneers' only conference loss thus far.
Galesburg has not won consecutive games since beginning the season with a 3-0 record in the Streaks' Thanksgiving Tournament. The team is 3-3 in its last six games with wins against Richwoods, Dulap and Morton and losses against Rock Island, United Township and Peoria High. Galesburg is trying to get the frustration of an 0-3 start in Western Big Six play for the first time in over two decades. The other league loss was to Quincy.
The Silver Streaks are putting up a lot of points in the team's new offense, averaging 76 per game while giving up 76.5 on defense. Galesburg scored a season-low 58 points in the loss at Rock Island, but the offense has come to life in the four games since then. Galesburg during that stretch is averaging 80.3 points per game and surrendering 77.5. The Streaks have scored 80 or more points in three of the four games and have a 2-2 record to show for it.
Galesburg's high powered offense has been held in check, though, in conference games, primarily because of poor shooting. The Streaks are averaging just 66 points per game in the three conference losses while giving up nearly 77 points per game. Thursday night's game will be the most difficult yet against the second best defense in the Big Six. Alleman is allowing opponents an average of just 39 points per game. During the seven-game winning streak Alleman is averaging 56.3 points per game, about eight more points than the team's season average, and giving up a mere 38.1.
Galesburg lost its last game 90-81 against Peoria High School last weekend. Peoria outscored the Streaks 24-12 in the fourth quarter to earn the victory. Galesburg knocked down 12 three-point shots in the game and has 30 combined in the last two games. Jessica Howard led the way with 16 points and Shelby Pacheco had 13. Howard leads the Western Big Six in scoring at 15.2 points per game and in three-point baskets with 45. Pacheco is 5th in scoring at 11.1 points per game and Mickey Rodriguez averages 11 per game, good for 6th in the league. Rodriguez is second in three-point shooting with 36 baskets. Sara Baker is also in the top ten in scoring at nearly 10 points per game.
Alleman senior guard A.J. Ledbedder, who will play next season at SIU-Edwardsville, leads the Pioneers with about 14 points per game, which is #2 in the conference. Alleman's second leading scorer is guard Angie Ledford, who's putting up 8.5 points per game. Ledbetter had 13 points and Ledford 12 in the win against Peoria Notre Dame.
Alleman won both of its games against Galesburg last season: 40-31 and 44-38.
Coverage of Thursday night's game begins at 6:40 on WGIL AM 1400 and online at www.wgil.com.
Western Big Six - Thursday night:
Galesburg (6-5, 0-3) at Rock Island Alleman (8-4, 2-1) 7 p-m
Rock Island (5-5, 1-2) at Quincy (7-4, 1-2) - 7 p-m
United Township (6-4, 2-1) at Moline (8-0, 3-0) - 7 p-m
Rowva plays West Central at 6:00 p-m
Farmington meets Abingdon at 7:30 p-m
Wethersfield squares off against West Prairie at 6:00 p-m
Bushnell-Prairie City/Avon takes on Brimfield at 7:30 p-m
Monmouth-Roseville (10-1, 3-0) goes for its fourth straight Olympic Conference win without a loss at Rockridge (7:30 p-m)
High School Boys Basketball
Williamsfield plays Prophetstown at 6:00 p-m
United meets Ridgewood at 7:30 p-m
Mercer County plays Erie at 6:00 p-m
Rowva squares off against Elmwood at 7:30 p-m
@ Kewanee Tournament:
Knoxville plays Princeton at 6:00 p-m
Local College Basketball
Carl Sandburg College's men's team (6-6) travels to Bulington to play Southeastern Community College in a non-conference matchup at 7:00 p-m