With less than two minutes to go and Galesburg ahead of Peoria Notre Dame 61-44, Coach Evan Massey called a timeout for the Silver Streaks.
He wanted them to run their 'delay' offense which features a trio of Streaks who handle the ball in the frontcourt. While a stall in nature, it's also generated a few points when the opportunity presents itself.
So when they took the court, Streak players Jenna Bicego, Annie Parkin and Amanda Gunther got into position. But Irish Coach Cindy Clark waved her players to sit back in a two-three zone and not to try and steal the ball.
And so it was that Bicego held the ball on her hip and the clock ran, unfettered, until it expired.
''The game was over,'' said Clark after the game. ''My players had been through enough.''
Everyone at Thiel Gym-- players, fans and coaches-- were a little perplexed at what they saw.
Notre Dame fans started to cheer, feeling-- like Clark-- they had been ripped off by those unfair, prejudiced referees.
Galesburg fans responded by getting on their feet, cheering and then counting down the last ten seconds of the game.
At least two Notre Dame players were openly upset on the court and in tears.
Gunther started to jump up and down with twenty seconds left. ''It was a big surprise,'' said the senior post player who scored 13 points on the day. ''We expected them to come after us.''
Parkin tried hard not to, but broke out in a smile and danced a jig as the clock expired. ''I thought their players were humiliated by what they had to do,'' said Parkin, who played 32 minutes of tough defense on Irish senior Liz Baldi. The result? Baldi scored four points and committed five fouls.
''We play the way we play,'' said an unashamed Parkin after the game. ''That's what we do.''
Any basketball game against Notre Dame is physical. That's their track record. That's their niche. They live by it and on Saturday they certainly died by it.
Historically, Clark has been upset before about playing in Galesburg. It's a trait that Richwoods Coach Terry Quilty eventually got over. But then again, Clark's had pissing matches with other Western Big 6 coaches and a track record of getting upset at times. Saturday's events were no different.
''Our kids were treated unfairly today,'' said Clark after the game. ''All they want is a fair chance and the officials sent them the wrong message today. Our team was never allowed to play. I've been coaching for twenty years and I've never seen anything like it today.''
Streaks Coach Evan Massey declined to comment on Clark's accusations. Asked if he was surprised over the final two minutes of the game, Massey simply said, ''I have enough trouble trying to figure our strategy without trying to analyze other teams.''
Asked why Irish star Emily Markovich-- a physical, rough post player that dominated Richwoods a few weeks ago in a double overtime loss-- was virtually invisible in the first half (no points, one rebound) and was a non-factor in the game, Clark replied, ''Galesburg had two players hanging on her. They were committing moving screens. I'm not upset about what was called in the game, I'm just upset about what wasn't called.''
She may have wanted to talk to Casey Berry, who got splattered on the floor three times in the game. Or Gunther, who was head-butted in the first quarter by an Irish player resulting in a loose tooth. Is Dr. Bicego in the house? ''They're a physical team but they always have been,'' said Gunther. ''We can play that game, too.''
Truth be known, Markovich was stopped by Galesburg's defense-- primarily by 5'9'' Ali Bauchman, who gives up several inches in height and lots of press clippings to Markovich. ''She sold me on her defense two years ago,'' said Massey of Bauchman. ''That's when we went up to Stevenson during the summer and Ali played against three all-state centers who were 6'2'' and held her own. Obviously at her height, she can't get the job done herself and our perimeter kids understand against good posts, they have to make it hard for the guards to see inside. Ali's a lot like Jenny Zolper in that she's not a flashy player and doesn't score a lot but she makes us a winner because of her defense.''
This Galesburg-Notre Dame basketball rivalry is starting to get some legs. With the Streaks holding a record of 13-1 against the Irish, it's been more than one-sided. The Streaks knocked off Notre Dame 48-43 in the Sectional Championship last year on a neutral court and handed ND a 48-37 loss at home two years ago.
Despite her subdued anger, Clark told the media after the game that her team would return and play in next year's King Tournament. ''We play some good competition here,'' the Notre Dame coach said. ''Galesburg's a good basketball program, they just don't need the kind of help they got today.''
Clark has a nice team at Notre Dame. They made it to the Sectional Finals last year. They knocked off Woodruff and Superstar Britney Jordan. And as mentioned previously, they took Richwoods to double overtime at the State Farm Classic.
But this 'conspiracy theory' held by Irish fans just doesn't wash. The better team won. Forget about it.