GIBSON CITY -- The transition from junior varsity to the varsity level has been far from an overwhelming one for Braden Roesch and his teammates.
The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley junior forward scored 25 points as the Falcons won 68-40 in their season -- and GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament -- debut against Armstrong-Potomac on Monday, Nov. 25.
“That feels pretty good being the first game. It was a good feeling," Roesch said. “I don’t think it was too bad because last year, we pushed the ball a lot, so I felt like we were in pretty good shape tonight. It’s a quicker game, but I felt like we were ready, and our team was ready to go.”
After a basket by Dylan Knight gave A-P a 2-0 lead, Roesch made a free throw and a 3-pointer to give GCMS a 4-2 lead with less than five minutes left in the first quarter. Roesch scored again on an offensive-rebound putback and on a layup via a lob pass from Alex Minion to extend the Falcons' lead to 8-2 with 3:15 remaining in the opening quarter.
“The guys came out and played hard. They did a lot of the things that we stressed in the preseason," GCMS head coach Ryan Tompkins said. "Right now, it depends a lot on energy and effort, and the guys came out and played well. They just kind of had a relentlessness about them that paid off.”
A 3-pointer by Brody Howard and a two-point basket by Knight trimmed A-P's deficit to 8-7, but from there, the Trojans would be held scoreless for about six minutes.
"We knew that they were going to be big shooters," Tompkins said. "We knew they were very capable. We stressed that we just had to rebound the ball, and I think we did a good job of getting to the glass and limiting them to one-shot possessions.”
Cade Elliott drew a foul with 2:08 left in the first quarter and made a free throw that extended GCMS's lead to 9-7. He missed the second free-throw attempt, but Spencer Meenen drew another foul six seconds later after grabbing the offensive rebound.
Meenen made a shot from the charity stripe to make the score 10-7 as the first quarter came to an end.
From there, the Falcons went on an 11-0 run in the second quarter.
Jordan Lee made a basket and Ethan Garard drained a 3-pointer before a driving layup by Minion made the score 17-7. Roesch made two free throws with six minutes left in the second quarter before Tanner Cribbett sank a jump shot.
A basket by Luke Gordon ended GCMS's run with 4:13 left in the second quarter, but the Falcons would end the first half with a 36-13 halftime lead.
Cribbett started GCMS's half-ending 15-6 run by completing a three-point play as he was fouled by Gordon. Nineteen seconds later, Elliott drew another foul and made two more free throws.
Knight and Meenen exchanged baskets before a 3-pointer by Roesch and a driving layup by Elliott extended the Falcons' lead to 33-11. After Jayce Townsend ended GCMS's 7-0 spurt with a basket, another trey by Roesch made the score 36-13.
“We were able to get a comfortable lead there," Tompkins said.
Rylee Showalter finished as A-P's leading scorer as he scored all 13 of his points during the third quarter, starting with a three-point play with 7:26 remaining in the quarter. He also made three 3-pointers.
"Showalter hit some shots there in the second half," Tompkins said.
Roesch made two free throws with 6:41 left in the third quarter, completed a three-point play with 6:07 remaining in the quarter and drained two more foul shots 27 seconds later to extend GCMS's lead to 43-16. After Knight made a basket, Elliott made two more free throws with 5:55 left in the third quarter to make the score 45-18.
A 3-pointer and a free throw by Showalter and a two-point basket by Gordon cut A-P's deficit to 45-24. After Meenen scored two points via an assist by Elliott, another trey by Showalter made the score 47-27.
Roesch made a basket before another Showalter's third 3-pointer cut the Trojans' deficit to 49-30 with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter. A driving layup by Elliott and a putback by Lee extended GCMS's lead to 53-30 as the third quarter came to an end.
Howard made a 3-pointer and a free throw to cut A-P's deficit to 53-34 with 6:51 remaining in the game before Cribbett and Knight exchanged buckets to make the score 55-36. Nick Culler and Howard exchanged baskets to make it 57-38 before a 3-pointer by Cribbett and a free throw by Minion extended GCMS's lead to 61-38.
Cribbett assisted Meenen on a basket that further extended the Falcons' advantage to 63-38 before Meenen tallied another bucket that made the score 65-38. Evan Schluter scored the Trojans' final two points via a basket before another bucket by Meenen and a free throw by Nathan Kallal concluded the scoring at 68-40.
Along with Roesch, Meenen and Cribbett also reached double figures for GCMS with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Six other Falcons also got on the scoreboard as Elliott finished with nine points, Lee had four points, Garard and Minion each had three points, Culler had two points and Kallal had one point.
“I think we did a good job. You’ve got to have balance," Tompkins said. "We have too many good coaches going against us in our league and through the season who are going to try to take away certain tendencies. The more guys we can have step up and make plays, the better off we’re going to be.”
The Falcons will continue Thanksgiving Tournament play against Warrensburg-Latham -- which defeated Iroquois West 64-56 earlier that Monday -- at 8 p.m. today and against Iroquois West at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and Roesch says he is confident his team will be ready for those games and beyond as it goes about the 2019-20 season.
“I think we’ll be good. We’ve got to keep communicating and keep being teammates, and we’ll be good to go," Roesch said.
According to Tompkins, GCMS will go into the rest of the season with some room for improvement.
“We’ve got a lot of things that we know we can get better at, which is good, to be able to play well and get a win and still know there’s facets that you can improve on," Tompkins said.
GCMS 68, Armstrong-Potomac 40
AP 7 6 17 10 -- 40
GCMS 10 26 17 15 -- 68
Gavin Lomax 0-0-0, Dylan Knight 5-0-10, Austin Rosenbarger 0-0-0, Brody Howard 3-1-9, Johnny Hudson 0-0-0, Gavin Parkerson 0-0-0, Seth Johnson 0-0-0, Luke Gordon 2-0-4, Jayce Townsend 1-0-2, Evan Schluter 1-0-2, Gary Jones 0-0-0, Josh Goulding 0-0-0, Rylee Showalter 4-2-13. Totals 16-3-40.
Tristan Roesch 0-0-0, Tanner Cribbett 4-1-10, Cade Elliott 2-5-9, Braden Roesch 7-8-25, Nick Culler 1-0-2, Nathan Daughenbaugh 0-0-0, Ethan Garard 1-0-3, Spencer Meenen 5-0-11, Nathan Kallal 0-1-1, Alex Minion 1-1-3, Jordan Lee 2-0-4, Alex Meece 0-0-0. Totals 23-17-68.
3-pointers -- Armstrong-Potomac 5 (Showalter 3, Howard 2). GCMS 5 (B. Roesch 3, Cribbett, Garard).