Lady Wildcats finish third at Princeville Holiday Tournament with 3-2 record, closing win over Elmwood

Only one thing stands between Galva and a tournament title this season — the DePue Little Giants.

The top seed at the 90th annual Princeville Holiday Tournament, DePue held off the third-seeded Wildcats 37-32 Thursday (Dec. 28) night in the tourney’s title game. 

“It doesn’t feel very good because we thought that was a game we could win. We played them well both times and didn’t finish,” Galva head coach Chance Jones said of the Little Giants. “They’re a very tough matchup and we guarded them well. They just got to the glass on us.”

The first meeting came on the opening night of the season at the ROWVA-Williamsfield Tournament. DePue earned a 58-52 victory over the Wildcats and went on to win the tourney, with Galva settling for second.

The Wildcats had their chances at Princeville against the No. 4 team in the latest Class 1A state poll, but it was the Little Giants making the plays when it mattered most.

“Every time we had it down the stretch in a big moment, we turned it over,” Jones said.

DePue led 8-7 at the quarter and used a run of six straight points to build its biggest lead of the night, 20-11. The Wildcats whittled the DePue lead to 20-16 at the half and stared at that same deficit, 28-24, heading into the final eight minutes.

Galva missed three 3-pointers that would’ve trimmed the margin to a point early in the fourth quarter, but still battled back to pull within a bucket, 31-29, with 49 seconds remaining on a Mason Kaiser trey.

DePue’s Manny Winfert hit four straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

“They’re big and really, really fast,” Jones said. “We controlled the tempo, but then we got lazy with the basketball.”

Kaiser and Cooper Hoxworth led the Wildcats with 13 points apiece, while Winfert led all scorers with 15 points and Rafa Puga chipped in with  12 points for the Little Giants.


Semifinal rally for OT win

Galva earned its trip to the Princeville title game with a stunning rally to defeat second-seeded Brimfield 56-45 in overtime Wednesday (Dec. 27) night.

Down 38-32 in the fourth quarter of the semifinal matchup with the Indians, the Wildcats had trailed since the score was 3-2 and their leading scorer to that point, Cooper Hoxworth, had just fouled out.

Enter Mason Kaiser.

Kaiser scored Galva’s final 11 points of regulation, knocked down a game-tying floater in the final seconds, and finished with a game-high 19 points in the overtime win.

“When (Hoxworth) fouled out it woke us all up. We had to bring it from within and grind it out,” Kaiser said. “We’ve been in situations like that before where we lost the game and we told ourselves ‘You know what we’re going to finish this one off.’”

The game-tying shot followed an intense sequence which saw Galva use a 7-0 run to go in front 41-40, only for Brimfield’s Reece Teubel to knock down a three to regain the lead. With six seconds left Kaiser drove to the right side of the lane and flipped a shot two feet above the rim which ultimately found the net.

“On that play I’m looking to drive for a kick out or to get a foul. I went up to draw the foul and the refs didn’t call it, luckily the ball still went in,” Kaiser said.

Galva found itself tied 45-45 early in the overtime when Nick Anderson hit a three to kick off an 11-0 closing run for the Wildcats. And after shooting 1-for-7 on free throws across the first three quarters the Wildcats went 17-for-20 in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.

“They were in control the whole time up until overtime. When (Anderson) hit that shot and we started to make free throws, we finally got control,” Coach Jones said.

Hoxworth finished with 11 points. Anderson led the team with five rebounds.


Wildcats 10-3 going into 2018

The Wildcats turn the page on 2017 with a 10-3 record. Jones listed better care of the basketball and work on the offensive glass as areas in need of improvement entering the second half of the season — which started with a road non-conference game at Riverdale Wednesday (Jan. 3) followed by Tuesday’s (Jan. 9) Lincoln Trail Conference opener at home with Ridgewood.

“It’s a really good start for us. We haven’t played real good basketball at times, but we gutted out a bunch of wins,” Jones said. “I think our defense has gotten better over this (Princeville Holiday Tournament) week. We got tested a lot of different ways and we have a tough schedule coming up, so we have some work to do.”


Lady Wildcats finish third at tourney

The Galva girls finished third in the six-team, round-robin tourney at Princeville.

After starting 2-1, the Lady Cats lost to the eventual tournament champion — the host Lady Princes — 62-35 Wednesday (Dec. 27) night.

Princeville roared to a 23-12 lead at the quarter behind eight points each from Caitlin Pullen and Brimlee Bauman.

The deficit remained 11 points at the half — 34-23 — and the Lady Princes pulled away in the final two quarters outscoring Galva 28-12.

Marisa Horton-Mesa topped three Princeville players in double figures with 18 points, followed by Pullen with 17 and Bauman 15.

Darrah Schilling was the lone Lady Cat in double figures with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Brynn Patty added nine points.

Galva wrapped up the tourney Thursday (Dec. 28) morning with a 55-39 win over Elmwood.

The Lady Cats led 16-15 at the quarter on the strength of three 3-pointers from Brynn Patty. Galva pulled away in the middle two frames, outscoring Elmwood 28-12.

Patty topped the Lady Cats with 15 points, followed by Hannah Anderson with 12.

Princeville finished a perfect 5-0 in the seventh annual tournament, followed by Bushnell-Prairie City second at 3-2 and Galva third also at 3-2. Elmwood and Midland finished 2-3 in the tourney field, with Peoria Heights at 0-5.

The Lady Wildcats are 9-8 on the season and jumped back into Lincoln Trail Conference play Wednesday (Jan. 3) at Mercer County. Coach Dan Russell’s team returns home next week for a pair of LTC games — ROWVA on Monday (Jan. 8) and West Central on Wednesday (Jan. 10) — before the LTC Tournament tips off on Thursday (Jan. 11).

Conference play resumes with Galva tied atop the league standings at 2-0 with three other teams — Annawan, Princeville and Wethersfield. Mercer County and Stark County are 1-1, with Ridgewood, ROWVA, West Central and United at 0-2.


Ridgewood fourth Amboy tourney

The Ridgewood girls basketball team finished fourth in the eight-team Amboy Holiday Tournament.

The Spartans fell to the host school in Friday’s (Dec. 29) third-place game 53-29.

Grayce Spicher topped Ridgewood with 13 points.


Back in action

After a quiet holiday tournament week for the ROWVA-Williamsfield and Ridgewood boys and the ROWVA girls, all three teams return to action in 2018.

The ROWVA girls returned to Lincoln Trail Conference play at home Wednesday (Jan. 3) and travel to Bushnell-Prairie City Saturday (Jan. 6) for a non-conference matchup. LTC play resumes with road trips to Galva Monday (Jan. 8) and Ridgewood (Jan. 10).

The R-W boys travel to Elmwood Friday (Jan. 5) night and then embark on the ICAC Tournament Jan. 8-15 at Brimfield.

The Ridgewood boys are part of the field Saturday (Jan. 6) at the Clinton New Year’s Showdown at Clinton High School. The Ridgewood fresh-soph squad plays Sangamon Valley at 1 p.m. at the junior high gym, while the varsity Spartans play Sangamon Valley at 3 p.m. at the high school gym.

Ridgewood opens LTC play Tuesday (Jan. 9) at Galva.

(Jackson White, WCI Sports, contributed to this story.)