Tigers defeat Gallatin Co…..face Hardin County tonight for GEC Tournament Title

By Steve Dunford 

HARRISBURG –  When people asked my thought’s on last nights game, I said the first team to 40 will win it.

In the rebuilding process Thompsonville coach Pete Gordon shortened the game.  Gallatin County and former Tiger coach Doug Miller knows very well how to play that game suiting up for the McLeansboro Foxes in his high school days.

Tiger point guard Tyson Kessler took over the game in the closing minutes, offensively, defensively, and at the free throw line.  Neither team hit 40, but the Tigers had a 38-36 win over the Gallatin County Hawks to advance to tonight’s championship game of the Greater Egyptian Conference Tournament against Hardin County.

Along with Kessler, Peyton Roberts and Zack Krikman come up with a big steal and a jump ball each to help the Tigers to seal the victory.

The Tigers in their effective 2-3 zone early in the first half in last night’s win.

The Tigers played a 2-3 zone all nights that gave the Hawks fits all night.  The Hawks play a sagging man to man keying on center Anthony Darge.  They took Darge out of his game offensively, but he had some key rebounds and blocked shots.

The Thompsonville zone shut down Gallatin’s leading scorers Audie Gobel and Robbie Prince to ten points between them.

It was not one for the offensive record books, as Gallatin kicked a field goal and record a safety, T’ville scored a touchdown and kicked the extra point, as it was 7-5 after one.

The Tigers had jitters and were emotional coming in, as it was the two year anniversary of the former Tiger coach and a mentor to a lot of the players, Bill Morris.  I will be writing a piece about his life early next week.

The late North Carolina Coach Dean Smith would have loved the pace of this one, as it was 15-13 Gallatin with under a minute and some change left on the clock in the first half.   Gallatin was going for one shot and Coach Pete Gordon was content to let them, as Darge was on the bench with two fouls.

The Hawks cough it up twice, and Bryson Chullen a 6′ 4″ sophomore who is seeing increased minutes for Darge, helps his team convert scoring on two consecutive possessions to give Thompsonville a 17-15 halftime lead.

The Tigers kept building their lead slowly in the fourth.  At the end of three, the Tigers were up 29-21.

The game changed from a turtles to a jack rabbits pace quickly.  Gallatin scores a quick bucket.  Reed Raubach comes down and buries a quick three.  Doug Miller calls a time out.

The Hawks go to a full court press. and Thompsonville struggles with it.  They score twice in 15 seconds to cut the T’ville lead to five.  That was part of a 13 point run, which the Hawks had a 36-32 lead with just over two minutes to go with the ball.

That is when Tyson Kessler’s leadership kicked in to seal the victory.   He had a game high 13 on the night.  Raubach had eight, and Corbin Fitch had seven, who is questionable for tonight’s game.

Dawson Hish led Gallatin County with 10 on the evening.

Here is what Tiger Coach Pete Gordon had to say about last night’s victory.  “I am proud of our effort last night. We executed our game plan well. I felt like our kids equalled their intensity. It seemed like every time they made a nice play, we would go immediately respond with a nice play of our own.

“(Zack) Kirkman was huge after we knew (Corbin) Fitch was out. Tyson (Kessler) was a gamer. Peyton (Roberts) didn’t score a point but was flat great defensively. We talked about a win over Gallatin will elevate our season, and move the program in the direction we want it to go. Darge and Raubach were so solid as well. Really an awesome TEAM effort.”

Thompsonville improves to (13-7) on the season.  Gallatin County falls to (10-8) on the season.

Hardin County punched their ticket to face T’ville tonight with a 59-52 win over Crab Orchard last night.

This is what Coach Pete Gordon had to say about tonight’s Cougars.  “Hardin County is so solid and playing so well. We have a desire to avenge our loss at their place. Playing them on a neutral court will be different then playing at their place. We are excited to be on this stage and it is a testament to the hard work our players and coaches have put in to get to this level. We have played in that 7th place game the last three years, so playing for the Championship is almost unthinkable.” 

I talked to Hardin County coach Rodney Lane this afternoon about facing the Tigers in the championship game.  “We got them by 15 at our place.  That does not mean anything going into tonight.  We were only up four going into the fourth quarter.  We are both playing well, and at the right time.  We had to play very well to beat Crab last night.  It will be a great game for the fans to watch this evening.  

The Cougars come into tonight’s game with a 7-8 record, which is deceiving.  They play as tough of a non conference schedule as Sesser-Valier does.  Most of their losses are to 2A schools.  They faced the Benton Rangers in the opener of the Goreville Invitational.

The first game tonight will be the consolation championship, which NCOE faces Carrier Mills at 5:30.  Gallatin Co. and Crab Orchard play for third place at 7:30 and Thompsonville and Hardin Co play for the championship at 8:30.

Box Score

THOMPSONVILLE (38)  Kessler  3 1 4-4 13,  Raubach 0 2 2-2 8, Fitch 1 0 5-6 7, Darge 2 0 0-2 4, Chullen 1 0 2-2 4, Kirkman 1 0 0-0 2,  Roberts 0 0 0-1 0, Dixon 0 0 0-0 0

GALLATIN COUNTY (36)  Hish 1 0 2-4 10, Rushing 3 0 1-1 7,  Walters 2 0 2-4 6, Prince 2 0 2-4 6, Goebel 2 0 0-2 4, Wilson 0 1 0-0 3, Reeder 0 0 0-0 0, Kiesecoms 0 0 0-0 0, Brock Seely 0 0 0-0 0

Score By Quarters

THOMPSONVILLE (13-7)    7 – 10 – 12 – 9  – 38

GALLATIN COUNTY (10-8)   5 – 10 – 6 -15 -36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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