|UPDATED 1:06 p-m 12/4/09 Galesburg High School's boys basketball team is no doubt looking forward to playing the team that broke the Silver Streaks' hearts twice last season.
That, a six-game losing skid, taking on an arch rival and improved play this season all make for what should be a basketball lover's delight at Thiel Gymnasium Friday night as Galesburg squares off against Quincy in the Western Big Six opener for both teams.
Quincy, which got hot toward the end of last season and eventually lost in the sectional round, is off to a 3-0 start. The Blue Devils posted wins against St. Louis Normandy (81-67), Algonquin Jacobs (68-46) and Limestone (69-54) in their own Thanksgiving Tournament. Quincy is averaging nearly 73 points per game and giving up about 56. The team returns all-conference guard Zach Forbes, who's averaging 20.5 points per game. Forbes scored 18 against Jacobs and torched Limestone for 23 points after missing the Blue Devils' season-opener against Normandy.
Forbes and fellow senior, forward Alex VonderHaar, give Quincy a solid 1-2 scoring punch. VonderHaar is averaging 17 points per game, which included a 24-point effort in the win against Limestone. Senior guard Isaiah Johnson is also a scoring threat. He's third on the team, averaging 14 points per game. Junior guard Mitch Marold, the quarterback for Quincy's football team that made the playoffs, is putting up 8.3 points per game.
Galesburg is off to its best start in years with a 4-1 record. The Silver Streaks beat Urbana 53-49 last Saturday night in the final game of the Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament. The Streaks played poorly in the first half but picked it up in the final two quarters to earn the victory, the team's third straight. Senior forward Victor Davis led Galesburg with 28 points and 15 rebounds. A pre-season All-Western Big Six Conference selection, Davis leads his team with a 22 points per game scoring average. He's also the leading rebounder, pulling down 12 boards per contest and he's shooting 75 percent from the free-throw line.
Dalton Davis is second in scoring at just under 10 points per game. He's also knocking down 75 percent of his free-throw attempts. Three other players - Brandon Thompson, Chad Thompson and Ryan McElmurray - are all close in scoring at 6.8, 6.6 and 5.8 points per game, respectively. Chad Thompson is second in rebounding at 5.2 per game and leads the team with 7 three-point field-goals.
Quincy has won six straight games against Galesburg dating back to the 2006-07 season. Two of the losses were especially gut-wrenching. Galesburg held a 19-point halftime lead against the Blue Devils on Quincy's home court last January and it appeared what was a four-game losing skid against the Devils would end that night. But Quincy stormed back, outscoring the Silver Streaks 49-23 in the second half, including a 32-point fourth quarter, to beat Galesburg 78-71.
The other loss was the following month at Thiel Gymnasium in the conference finale for both teams. Quincy made 8-of-10 free throws in overtime to beat Galesburg 50-48. The Streaks and Quincy wound up with 4-6 conference records.
Two of Galesburg's strengths this season have been defense and free-throw disparity. The Streaks are giving up just 44.8 points per game and averaging nearly 60. Galesburg has outshot opponents from the free-throw line 105-28, and the team's making 67% of its charity tosses after a slow start in that phase. The Streaks have made 37-of-51 attempts over the past two games, good for 72.5 percent.
Quincy has struggled at the line so far, shooting 53% at the stripe. But the Blue Devils are knocking down 48% of their shots from the field while holding opponents to 38%.
A packed house is expected Friday night at Thiel Gymnasium for this season's first "White Out." Pregame coverage begins at 7:06 on WGIL AM 1400.
Western Big Six Boys Basketball Schedule:
Galesburg (4-0, 0-0) hosts Quincy (3-0, 0-0), 7:30 p-m
Rock Island Alleman (1-2, 0-0) visits Moline (3-0, 0-0), 7:30 p-m
United Township (3-0, 0-0) plays at Rock Island (3-1, 0-0), 7:30 p-m
Around the area:
Knoxville hosts Brimfield (Prairieland Conference)
Williamsfield welcomes Rowva (non-conference)
Monmouth-Roseville plays at Orion (Olympic Conference)
Farmington is at home against Sherrard (Olympic Conference)
Ridgewood plays at Fulton Unity Christian (non-conference)
Bushnell-Prairie City-Avon hosts Rushville-Industry (non-conference)
Galva hosts Wethersfield (Lincon Trail Conference)
West Central visits Mendon Unity (non-conference)
Elmwood travels to Princeville (non-conference)
Macomb hosts Rockridge (Olympic Conference)
Local College Basketball
Monmouth College begins Midwest Conference play Friday against Ripon at Glennie Gymnasium. The tip-off is at 7 p-m.
Knox College also opens Midwest Conference play at home. The Prairie Fire meet Lawrence University at Memorial Gymnasium at 7:30 p-m.
Knox College hosts Lawrence at 5:30 p-m
Monmouth College welcomes Ripon at 5 p-m