GIBSON CITY -- Sometimes, teams need a little break.
En route to winning its fourth game in six days -- a stretch that included two overtime games -- with a 49-48 victory Wednesday over Fieldcrest, the
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley boys basketball team led 44-43 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining when it decided to run out some of the clock.
Bryce Barnes held the ball near midcourt -- with Fieldcrest's Ryan Naas, the Knights' nearest defender, several feet away from him -- for about three minutes before drawing a foul on Naas with 1:14 remaining.
“We had the lead, and it has been a grind," GCMS head coach Ryan Tompkins said. "We’ve had really good games against very good teams in a short span. It was about as tight as it gets. With the situation as it was, we were alright with using a few minutes to get our legs under us to close it out, and we knew we had to make our free throws."
Barnes made the first of his two free-throw attempts. After missing the second foul shot, Caleb Bleich collected an offensive rebound and scored on the putback to extend the Falcons' lead to 47-43 with 1:09 left in the game.
"Fortunately, we were able to get the big putback once they did decide to foul us," Tompkins said. "“That was a huge play. We talked a long time ago about the importance of Caleb’s defense and creating energy on the glass, and he did both of those tonight in a big way.”
Prior to Barnes's standstill, the Falcons (26-2, 11-0 HOIC) rallied from a 37-30 deficit.
“It was a great job by our guys. (They showed) a lot of resiliency," Tompkins said. "Our guys really showed a lot of guts tonight. Down seven, that could have been a make-or-break, but they made the decision to dig in and attack the rim a little bit and get some turnovers and put a little more pressure on Fieldcrest.”
Ryland Holt started the comeback by converting a three-point play with 7:50 left in the game.
“Ryland and Bryce have the ability to post and step out and make plays from the perimeter. Ryland took his turn facing up and attacking the rim against a very physical, good player and athlete in (Clay Wells)," Tompkins said. "There were some good plays down the stretch.”
After Holt scored on an offensive-rebound putback, a backcourt turnover by Fieldcrest led to a three-point play by Connor Birky that gave GCMS a 38-37 lead with 6:53 remaining in the game.
Another turnover led to a basket by Holt before Hayden Curls nailed a 3-pointer for Fieldcrest to tie the game at 40-40. Barnes then drained a go-ahead basket with 6:13 left in the game before Derek May made a 3-pointer to give the Knights (18-9, 6-4) the lead back at 43-42.
Barnes then scored while being fouled by Carls with 4:43 remaining to give GCMS a 44-43 lead. His standstill followed a missed shot by Jaxon Cusac-McKay.
Following Bleich's putback, May made a jump shot with 50.7 seconds left in the game. After Ben Freehill missed the front end of a 1-and-1 from the charity stripe with 39.5 seconds remaining, Bleich fouled Cusac-McKay on a made jump shot with 27.6 seconds left in the game.
Cusac-McKay, who finished the game with 10 points, made the ensuing foul shot to complete the three-point play and give Fieldcrest a 48-47 lead.
"Caleb did a tremendous job against a great point guard. Cusac-McKay is very good with the ball – very quick and very shifty. He’s one of the best guards at getting to the paint," Tompkins said. "Ninety-percent of the game, Caleb did a good job.”
After drawing Clay Wells's fifth foul, Holt made the game-tying, and what would be the game-winning, free throws to give GCMS a 49-48 lead with 19.9 seconds left in the game.
“They were very clutch," Tompkins said.
On Fieldcrest's final possession, Barnes stole the ball from May before racing to the opposite basket on a fastbreak. He missed a dunk attempt, but time expired.
“It was a great job defensively coming out and executing," Tompkins said. "We had one (foul) to give, but guys did a good job of not wasting it early and waiting until they went to attack, and then there was a scramble and Bryce got the deflection and the turnover.”
The Falcons started the game with an 8-0 lead as Connor Birky made a 3-pointer before Barnes scored while being fouled with 6:03 left in the first quarter before converting a three-point play with 5:20 remaining in the quarter.
After Naas made a 3-pointer, Holt tallied a basket before Barnes scored on a putback to extend GCMS's lead to 12-3. Cusac-McKay made a basket for the Knights before Barnes scored on a pull-up jumper with 2:38 left in the first quarter.
Cusac-McKay made two free throws with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter before May scored on a layup to cut Fieldcrest's deficit to 14-9 as the first quarter came to an end.
Holt rebounded his own shot and scored on the putback to extend GCMS's lead to 16-9 before Fieldcrest went on a 6-0 run as Naas and Carls each hit a 3-pointer to cut the Knights' deficit to 16-15. Holt made a free throw with 4:50 left in the second quarter before May made a two-point basket.
Birky was fouled on a fastbreak layup attempt that was set up by a Barnes steal. He made a foul shot with 4:06 left in the second quarter. After May made a basket, Freehill made a jump shot with 2:08 remaining in the first half before May made a free throw with 9.9 seconds left in the second quarter to cut Fieldcrest's halftime deficit to 20-18.
The Knights started the third quarter on a 10-0 run as May made a game-tying basket before draining a 3-pointer to give Fieldcrest a 23-20 lead with 5:45 left in the third quarter. Naas drained another trey with 5:03 remaining in the quarter before Cusac-McKay scored on a driving layup to extend the Knights' lead to 28-20.
Freehill drained a 3-pointer to cut GCMS's deficit to 28-23 before Carls made two free throws with 5:45 left in the third quarter to make the score 30-23.
Nathan Garard grabbed an offensive rebound to set Barnes up for a driving layup that cut the Falcons' deficit to 30-25.
Cory Land scored on a contested layup for the Knights before Barnes stole the ball and drew an intentional foul on Land before making two free throws to make the score 32-27 with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter. Wells made a basket before Holt converted a three-point play via a foul by Carls with 2:05 left in the third quarter to cut GCMS's deficit to 34-30.
After Cusac-McKay made a free throw with 1:50 remaining in the third quarter, Naas scored a two-point basket in the final seconds of the quarter to make the score 37-30.
Barnes and Holt each finished the game scoring in double figures for GCMS with 18 and 17 points, respectively, while Birky had seven points, Freehill had five points and Bleich had two points.
With the win, GCMS clinched at least a share of the Heart of Illinois Conference regular-season title.
The Falcons can win the title outright as they play their regular-season finale at Lexington on Friday. Deer Creek-Mackinaw, which is one game behind GCMS in the standings, hosts Tri-Valley that same Friday.
“We control our own destiny,” Tompkins said. “It was a big win for us, especially to close out the home part of the schedule for these seniors and this program for what has been a good stretch for a few years at home.”
The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley junior varsity boys basketball team lost 63-57 Wednesday to Fieldcrest.
Braden Roesch led the Falcons with 24 while Nathan Kallal also scored in double figures with 11 points. Tristin Roesch had seven points, Alex Minion had six points, Ethan Garard had five points and Awstace Grauer had four points.
HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY BOYS
GCMS 49, Fieldcrest 48
FLD 9 9 19 11 -- 48
GCMS 14 6 10 19 -- 49
Fieldcrest (18-9, 6-4)
Hayden Carls 2-2-8, Derek May 6-1-15, Ryan Naas 4-0-11, Jaxon Cusac-McKay 3-4-10, Clay Wells 1-0-2, Matt Lorton 0-0-0, Garrett Nix 0-0-0, Cory Land 1-0-2. Totals 17-7-48.
GCMS (26-2, 11-0)
Ryland Holt 6-5-17, Connor Birky 2-3-7, Lane Short 0-0-0, Ben Freehill 2-0-5, Nathan Garard 0-0-0, Bryce Barnes 7-4-18, Caleb Bleich 1-0-2, Cade Elliott 0-0-0. Totals 18-11-49.
3-pointers -- Fieldcrest 7 (Naas 3, May 2, Carls 2). GCMS 2 (Birky, Freehill).
JUNIOR VARSITY BOYS
Fieldcrest 63, GCMS 57
FLD 16 22 15 10 -- 63
GCMS 10 16 15 16 -- 57
May 2-2-6, M. Stoeger 1-0-3, B. Nordstrom 2-0-4, Lorton 0-1-1, Land 4-2-10, N. Nordstrom 3-1-10, Allen 5-1-14, E. Stoeger 0-0-0, Sunken 0-0-0, Cook 0-0-0. Totals 22-11-63.
Ethan Garard 2-0-5, Awstace Grauer 1-2-4, Noah Nugent 0-0-0, Braden Roesch 8-7-24, Zander Wier 0-0-0, Tristin Roesch 3-0-7, Nathan Kallal 3-5-11, Alex Minion 1-4-6. Totals 18-18-57.
3-pointers -- Fieldcrest 8 (N. Nordstrom 3, Allen 3, Cook, M. Stoeger). GCMS 3 (Garard, B. Roesch, T. Roesch).