STREATOR — On the good news side of things, the short-handed Streator girls basketball team forced Herscher into nine first-quarter turnovers and 17 for the game Thursday.
On the not-so good news side, Herscher pressured the Bulldogs into 14 first-quarter turnovers and 32 for the night, the key factor in the Tigers recording their 20th win and handing Streator its 20th defeat, 51-19, in Illinois Central Eight Conference play at Pops Dale Gymnasium.
“We’ve been fighting that all year with injuries and turnovers, and turnovers really hurt us tonight,” first-year Bulldogs coach Jacob Durdan said. “If we had 32 turnovers, I’d say [Herscher] probably got 28, 30 points off of those turnovers. They executed very well in transition, and we didn’t handle the ball well at all.”
Herscher (20-4 overall, 7-2 ICE) did have some troubles of its own holding onto the basketball early. In between those first-period turnovers, however, the Tigers — led by Macey Moore (four steals and 17 points, including a banked in half-court buzzer-beater at the close of the first quarter) and Ella Gessner (six steals, 16 points) — were getting easy points off Streator (3-20 overall, 0-9 ICE) giveaways.
The Tigers scored the game’s initial 16 points. The Bulldogs committed turnovers on their initial six possessions.
“That’s been our M.O. the past two years,” Herscher coach Philip Peacock said, “trying to make our defense work for us to get some decent offense, and get [opposing teams[ out of things, try to make it hard for then to actually run some sort of organized offense against us.
“We like to run, so when people can get back on defense and set up in front of us, it takes us a second to say, ‘Wait a minute. This is our offense.’ But once we settle in, we can move the ball with the best of them and get good looks.”
The visitors’ advantage reached 10 points (10-0) 2 minutes, 18 seconds in on a Hailey King bucket; 20 points (30-10) 2:42 before halftime on a Gessner steal and layup; and 30 points (43-13) — setting up a fourth-quarter running clock — on a Gessner leaner in the paint midway through the third, sending the Tigers starters to the bench for the remainder.
Playing without regular interior starters Charlee Bourell and Marisa Vickers, the Bulldogs moved a couple usual bench players into the starting lineup and elevated a few sophomore team players into the regular rotation.
“Getting those minutes for those younger players is crucial with where we’re at,” Durdan said.
A number of Streator players made positive contributions, including Ellie Isermann with a five-point, eight-rebound, four-steal performance; Kiley Rhodes with a pair of steals; Jade Williams and Kora Lane with five rebounds apiece, Williams also with a pair of blocked shots; and Cailey Gwaltney, who scored Streator’s first points of the game on a 3-pointer 5:47 in and finished with three 3s and a team-high 12 points to go with two steals.
“The team kind of relies on me for my shooting,” Gwaltney said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game because we were down with a few players sick and injured, but we were trying to keep our heads in the game, and making shots and celebrating when we score really helps us do that.”
Streator is scheduled to visit Wilmington on Monday before returning to The Pops to host Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland for a 5:30 p.m. varsity tip Tuesday.