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GCMS falls to Hoopeston Area in close match

HOOPESTON — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley took on Hoopeston Area in a close match Saturday night in Hoopeston.

GCMS jumped out to an early lead, but Hoopeston Area quickly found its stride and began aggressively pushing toward the hoop in the closing minutes of the first quarter.

Braden Roesch stepped up for GCMS in the first quarter with two field goals. Tanner Cribbett and Cade Elliott each had one field goal in the first. Alex Minion scored two free throws in the first quarter.

Fouls helped Hoopeston Area gain some of their lead in the first quarter. Hoopeston Area’s Josh Delfino hit five of six free throws in the first quarter. Lucas Hofer’s twin three-pointers combined with Mauricio Gonzalezs’s three-pointer and Payton Berlin’s field goal secured Hoopeston Area’s lead heading into the second quarter.

Hoopeston Area went into the second quarter ahead 16-10, but it wouldn’t last as GCMS found its second wind and wound up doubling Hoopeston Area in scoring for the second quarter.

Hoopeston Area started the quarter off with a three-pointer from Berlin off of a difficult rebound by Chris Catron, but GCMS continued to eat into Hoopeston Area’s lead until a three-pointer from Ethan Garard pulled the Falcons to within a few points.

GCMS would regain the lead at the two-minute mark for the quarter and didn’t let its foot off the gas until the buzzer sounded for halftime. A buzzer-beating three-pointer from GCMS’s Nathan Kallal would put GCMS ahead 29-24 going into the half.

Roesch continued to lead the Falcons in scoring in the second quarter with seven points. Garard had six points in the quarter, Kallal had three and Jordan Lee had two.

Gonzalez and Berlin each put up three points for Hoopeston Area in the second quarter. Hofer scored two free throws during the quarter.

Both teams came out of half-time ready to play, though it took a few minutes for either team to score again. But when they did, the floodgates opened.

GCMS and Hoopeston Area would trade leads several times during the quarter, and there was even a brief moment of dueling three-point shots as Berlin hit a three-pointer and Elliott responded with one of his own followed by another by Delfino in straight possessions.

Berlin ended the quarter with eight points. Hoopeston Area’s Cameron Flint had six points during the third quarter, followed by Delfino with five points and Hofer with two.

Elliott led GCMS in scoring for the third quarter with five points, followed by Cribbett with four, Roesch with three and Garard and Kallal with two.

Both teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 45.

GCMS hit its stride in the fourth quarter and managed to pull ahead of Hoopeston Area and held that lead into the final minute or so of the quarter.

Hoopeston Area bided its time and hit a field goal to pull ahead 56-55.

Hofer hit two clutch free-throws with under a minute remaining to increase Hoopeston Area’s lead to 58-55.

The Falcons needed a three-pointer to tie, but they were unable to convert their shots successfully.

A final free throw from Delfino put the Cornjerkers up 59-55, and that was the final score.

Roesch led the Falcons with 15 points. Elliott had 12 points. Cribbett and Garard each had eight points. Kallal had five points, Spencer Meenen had three points and Minion and Alex Meece each had two points.

Berlin led the Cornjerkers with 15 points, followed closely by Hofer with 14 points, Flint and Delfino with 12 points and Gonzalez with six points.

GCMS Head Coach Ryan Tompkins said his team battled hard throughout the game, but he felt his players may have gotten off to a slow start at the beginning of the game and that cost them the chance to get an edge on Hoopeston Area.

“We battled,” he said. “I thought we had an opportunity to come out with just a little more fire, but we didn’t have it.”

Tompkins said his team did show that fire in the second quarter when it retook the lead and held it well into the second half, and he was glad to see his team battle back at several points during the game.

Tompkins said Hoopeston Area is a good team with some experienced players who challenged them on the court.

“They just had a little more play in them than we did,” he said.

The Falcons will face another challenge Tuesday when they host El Paso-Gridley at 5:30 p.m.

“They’re a good team,” Tompkins said. “We’ve got to be ready to play.”