GIBSON CITY – With a 44-28 win Thursday over Salt Fork, the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley varsity girls basketball team improved to 3-0 in the season-opening Lady Falcon and Bunnie Tip-Off Classic.
“That was a fun game to be a part of,” GCMS head coach Ross Harden said. “These girls are fun to coach. They’re great to be around. They have fun together. I just love being a part of it.”
The Falcons held Salt Fork to six points in the first quarter and three points in the fourth.
“The girls really came out and played defense. That’s where we’re going to hang our hats – on the defensive end,” Harden said. “The 1-2-2 zone is giving everybody fits. It’s fun to watch the girls fly around and have fun.”
Macie Russell made a couple of baskets to give the Storm a 4-1 lead.
After Lily Sizemore made a free throw to make the score 2-1, she made a basket to cut GCMS’s deficit to 4-3. Savannah Shumate then made a go-ahead basket for the Falcons while drawing a foul with 4:11 left in the first quarter.
“Savannah was playing huge,” Harden said.
After Cally Kroon made a 3-pointer to extend GCMS’s lead to 8-4, a bucket by Brycie Hird made the score 8-6. A steal by Mallory Rosendahl led to a fastbreak layup by Sophia Ray that made it 10-6.
“She’s a bulldog. She flies around out there,” Harden said. “She won’t ever let me take her out. I can tell she’s tired sometimes, but she doesn’t want to come out of the game. That’s just the mentality of these girls. They just fly around. They want to play defense. That’s just where it starts, and I love it.”
A 3-pointer by the freshman Sizemore extended the Falcons’ advantage to 13-6 as the first quarter came to an end.
“Lily’s a gym rat. She gets after it all the time at practice,” Harden said. “She takes control. I love having her with us.”
After Bracie Hird made a 3-pointer for Salt Fork, GCMS went on an 8-0 run, starting with a Sizemore free throw. Kroon made a basket before Rosendahl drained a 3-pointer and Ray scored on an offensive-rebound putback to extend the Falcons’ lead to 21-9.
Russell and Brycie Hird each made a basket to cut Salt Fork’s deficit to 21-13 by halftime.
After Sizemore made a basket to extend GCMS’s lead to 23-13, the Storm went on a 9-0 run as a couple of baskets by Sailor Pacot, a 3-pointer by Bracie Hird and a basket by Taylor Remole cut Salt Fork’s deficit to 23-22. After Kroon made a free throw to make it 24-22, Russell tallied a foul shot to make it 24-23 and Mindy Brown made a shot from the charity stripe to make it 25-23.
Brycie Hird made a game-tying basket for Salt Fork before Brown made two free throws to give GCMS a 27-25 lead as the third quarter came to an end.
From there, GCMS started the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run.
“I told the girls at halftime they’re going to make a run, and they did,” Harden said. “We knew that was coming, but we had to keep telling them to fight it off, and they did a great job. I’m just really proud of the way the girls fought.”
Brown recorded a steal and made a fastbreak layup to extend GCMS’s lead to 29-25. After Rosendahl made a free throw with 6:58 remaining in the game, a 3-pointer by Brown extended the advantage to 33-25.
“She hit two big threes at key moments,” Harden said.
Anna Warren then came off the bench to make a 3-pointer that extended the Falcons’ lead to 36-25 with 5:21 left in the game.
“She came off the bench and knocked down a big 3-pointer,” Harden said. “She just answered the call.”
Kroon scored on an offensive-rebound putback to make the score 28-25. After Russell made a free throw to stop GCMS’s run with 3:33 left in the game and Ella Cary tallied a basket to make it 38-26, Kroon scored on another putback to make it 40-28.
“I love to watch (Kroon) play,” Harden said.
Ray made a free throw and Brown drained another 3-pointer to conclude the game’s scoring at 44-28.
Seven players scored for GCMS as Brown led with 11 points and Kroon also scored in double figures with 10 points. Sizemore had nine points while Ray had five points, Rosendahl had four points, Warren had three points and Shumate had two points.
“That’s going to get you a lot of games if you score like that,” Harden said.
For Salt Fork, Russell led with eight points.
“Salt Fork is a good team, and they’re going to have a great season,” Harden said.
The Falcons will face Tri-Valley in the tournament championship game at 7 p.m. Friday in Gibson City.
“Tri-Valley is very good,” Harden said. “They’re big, athletic and fast. It’ll be a very tough test for us tomorrow night.”
GCMS 44, Salt Fork 28
SF 6 7 12 3 — 28
GCMS 13 8 6 17 — 44
Macie Russell 3-2-8, Hailey Walraven 0-0-0, Brycie Hird 3-0-6, Ella Cary 1-0-2, Bracie Hird 2-0-6, Taylor Remole 1-0-2, Sailor Pacot 2-0-4, Brianna Filicsky 0-0-0, Rhaelyn Flak 0-0-0. Totals 12-2-28.
Lizzie Giroux 0-0-0, Mindy Brown 3-3-11, Mallory Rosendahl 1-1-4, Sophia Ray 2-1-5, Savannah Shumate 1-0-2, Lily Sizemore 3-2-9, Anna Warren 1-0-3, Cally Kroon 4-1-10, Hadley Doman 0-0-0. Totals 15-8-44
3-pointers – Salt Fork 3 (Bracie Hird 2, Remole). GCMS 6 (Brown 2, Rosendahl, Sizemore, Warren, Kroon).