Boys' basketball storylines: Falcons, Tribe impress; Quinn shines

Boys' basketball storylines: Falcons, Tribe impress; Quinn shines

Preps coordinator COLIN LIKAS checks in with three items that caught his eye from the past week on the area scene:

When GCMS is on, look out

It shouldn't have surprised anyone that Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley was fielding a good team in 2018-19.

The previous outfit under coach Ryan Tompkins lost just four games while winning 25. The Falcons' last shortcoming of that campaign was the result of a near-buzzer-beater in a Class 2A regional final defeat versus Monticello.

And GCMS retained all but one athlete — 2017 News-Gazette All-Area football Player of the Year Mitch McNutt — heading into a new run.

Of course, the Falcons had to fight through a majority of their roster missing time while at the state football championship, which overlapped with the first week of basketball season.

Hence the two losses thus far in their 6-2 ledger.

When GCMS stepped onto its home floor against Ford County rival Paxton-Buckley-Loda on Dec. 11, though, it showed some of that potential it built in its prior 25-win season.

The Falcons received 12 three-pointers from five different athletes.

Senior forwards Ryland Holt — who garnered an official offer from Army on Tuesday — and Bryce Barnes were all over the court when it came to taking shots and snaring rebounds.

And GCMS limited PBL, which has since put up 60 points against Prairie Central and 72 versus Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin, to just 37 points in this tilt.

The Falcons' biggest tests so far will come after Christmas.

They won the 2017 Monticello Holiday Hoopla tournament, and repeating the process will be a difficult task at the eight-team event that tips off Dec. 26.

The host Sages, along with Tuscola and Oakwood, look like viable options to capture the tournament's top prize.

If GCMS, which is back in action at 7 p.m. tonight when the Falcons host rival Fisher in Heart of Illinois Conference action, is able to persevere once more, its future foes should be very wary.

Tuscola frosh stars as Tribe rolls

Two big takeaways arrived in the aftermath of last Friday's nonconference tilt between Judah Christian and Tuscola.

First, the Tribe are still a high-quality small-school program despite the graduation of Cade Chitty and Daniel Alston.

Second, Tuscola freshman Jalen Quinn is the real deal.

Let's start with the opening point.

Judah Christian (9-1), under new coach Bill Ipsen and missing two starters from its first-ever regional champion, looked completely at ease in a 75-49 win at Tuscola, a team the Tribe defeated by just three points a year ago.

Philip Coulter appears comfortable as a leader for this crew. He worked his way into good looks from a variety of spots on the court and finished with a game-high 20 points.

He was busy chatting it up with a local junior college coach shortly after the final buzzer, and that's something he and teammates like Connor Lash and Noah Jackson can expect to experience more of if they keep playing at this level.

What really intrigues me is the possibility for a postseason rematch between Judah and Cissna Park in Class 1A.

Yes, I'm looking way down the road, but these teams met in a regional final last season that ended with a 68-55 win for the Tribe.

Judah is still strong, but the Timberwolves also are ranked first in Class 1A by Associated Press voters. We can only be so lucky to see this tilt take place once more.

Moving on to Quinn. One of my fellow sports reporters at The News-Gazette, Scott Richey, profiled the young man prior to his first high school varsity minutes.

I can completely understand why after seeing him in person. While most of the Warriors were frustrated and stifled by the faster Tribe, Quinn seemed right at home in the atmosphere.

He matched Coulter at 20 points and finished a rebound short of a double-double.

And he's been on fire since then, posting 16 points and nine boards the next day against Tri-County, and following with a 24-point, 10-rebound performance versus Arcola on Tuesday.

Tuscola (8-1) is not a one-man show by any means. But Quinn is going to be a blast to watch for the next four years.

Bulldogs have ample potential

Mahomet-Seymour has not traveled an easy road under first-year coach Ryan Bosch.

The Bulldogs' second foe of the season was a Danville squad that looks better and better by the game, en route to an 11-0 start. M-S followed that with a showdown against a much-improved St. Thomas More club, winning that by nine points. Since then, there have been competitive games with Mt. Zion, Taylorville, Normal U-High and Lincoln as well.

Overall, the Bulldogs sit at 5-4, their latest result a 65-59 home loss to Lincoln on Tuesday night. But the season isn't lost.

Grant Coleman is a stud. The junior has shown out in nearly all of the Bulldogs' nine events. He's not afraid to shoot a three or smash his way into the paint.

Jordan Veldman, a standout on the football field, is lethal on the hardwood when his shot falls.

Connor Kamphaus' distance shooting is a sight to behold, especially in transition.

Kobe Essien, while perhaps a little raw in areas, is not afraid to do the dirty work.

And Dawson Finch, M-S' starting quarterback this football season, is as scrappy as you'd expect a QB to be.

When Bosch said he was thrilled with the Bulldogs' heart Tuesday night, it's easy to see why. Now they just need to follow through on their potential.