Streaks shock Devils

by John Ring

How did they do that?

That question was asked more than any other in Galesburg this past weekend.

How did the Silver Streaks pull off one of their most amazing upset victories in recent history with a depleted roster, no wins to their credit, on the road at Quincy in a game that virtually no one gave them a chance of at winning?

It was bad enough that the Streaks lost their first four games of the season-- all of which weren't even close games after the second quarter. Two players were still suspended, Derrek Blackwell was injured and junior guard Eric Atkins had quit the team in a dispute over playing time.

Coach Geoff Falk's roster shrank from twelve to ten to nine and then eight. Falk even gave the go-ahead for Blackwell to stay at home in Galesburg Friday night and miss the Quincy game so Derrek would be fresh and ready to take an important ACT test the next morning. He vowed to plug the holes with players from the sophomore team.

So when the Streaks made their two-hour trek to Quincy last Friday night, no one-- absolutely no one-- gave them a chance to spring off an upset.

But as so often happens in the world of sports, that's exactly what the Galesburg Silver Streaks did.

How did they do that?

They beat their most bitter rival in an important conference road game using a cast of characters that would have challenged the most brilliant screenplay writer in Hollywood.

A freshman making his varsity debut.

An unknown post player coming off the bench and putting up ridiculous numbers.

A senior guard who missed two years of eligibility celebrating his 18th birthday with career highs in both scoring and rebounding.

And a coach under fire who seemed oblivious to the fact that he needed to circle the wagons and take cover.

Did Geoff Falk feel any pressure going into Friday's game at Quincy?

''The only pressure we felt was to keep this team playing hard and keeping their attitude good,'' said Falk. ''We just moved on,'' added the Streaks coach about Atkins quitting the team. ''It was his choice to leave. We didn't talk about it. There's no hard feelings.''

''With Derrek, it was his last ACT testing opportunity. He needed to do well. He's only practiced an hour the last month, so he would have played just a few minutes anyway in the game.''

The Streaks, for the fifth straight time, started off the game well and surged to a 27-14 lead thanks to the offensive efforts of Pierre Williams and John Hawkinson.

''Even when we had that lead,'' said Hawkinson, ''I kept thinking, 'Can we hold it?'

''We just never had enough firepower when other teams surged at us,'' said Falk of the previous four losses. ''We couldn't respond.''

Quincy did. And with Blackwell at home and four players accumulating four fouls apiece, Falk used a variety of weapons to fire back with in a rapid-fire game that featured three-point plays, three-point shots and a furious pace.

Curtis Kilgore (25 points), Williams (28) and freshman Joel Dieterich (8) came through in a big way. Did Falk have any regrets about leaving Blackwell at home to study in the fourth period when he could have used two or three minutes from the Streaks forward?

''The test was more important for him,'' said Falk. Then he grinned. ''I had confidence in the players on the floor for us.''

Dieterich came into the game in the third period and never came back out. Kilgore played deep into the game. Williams kept scoring, Patrick Egan kept rebounding (he finished with 10) and the Streaks kept holding onto the lead. ''It was just good to see their hard work pay off,'' said Falk, about the victory. ''Their attitude is getting better.''

When did the Streaks know the game was won?

''I could hear their fans yelling at us,'' said Dieterich. ''They were pretty mad, real upset.''

''I knew it was over,'' said Kilgore, ''when I saw their fans heading for the exits.''

Pity the poor Blue Devils. First, they lose their coach and the player he was illegally recruiting and are suspended by the IHSA.

And now, their undefeated season has went up in flames (no pun intended) on their very own homecourt to Galesburg-- of all teams.

Uploaded to The Zephyr website December 17, 2002

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