Hot shooting Hawks "light up" NCOE
Gallatin runs GEC table; Goebel nets 26-points, Hawks roll 74-52

JUNCTION – The Gallatin County Hawks didn't get off to a great start on Thursday night in their conference finale against Norris City-Omaha-Enfield.

But in most aspects of sports, and life, it is how you finish that counts.

Coach Doug Miller's team got on a roll at the end of the first half and it carried over into the final two quarters as they offensively dissected the visiting Cardinals while defensively shutting them down.

The Hawks romped to an impressive 74-52 win.

With the triumph Gallatin County completed the Greater Egyptian Conference regular season at 7-0.

Junior forward Audie Goebel, who had went over 1,000-points for his career in the Hawks' last game, added a game-high 26-points to his prep totals as the hosts put together a second half that was worthy of merit.

Not only did Gallatin County hit 33-of-47 from the floor overall (70.2 percent) but Coach Miller saw his Hawks go 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) from the field in the second half.

They executed their offense as they vanquished NCOE in the final 16 minutes.

Three other Gallatin County players added double-digits to the bombardment of points.

Junior guard Robbie Prince tossed home 16-points for the Hawks while senior Aaron Walters added 12.

Sophomore guard Dawson Hish got in on the fun with 11-points while junior forward Garrett Rushing added six-points.

Sophomore guard Conner Kiesecoms added three-points for the 17-9 club who head into the postseason on a roll.

“I like our percentages better in the paint. But in the first quarter we tried to emulate their (NCOE) style. We came down the court and jacked up 3's and that is not us,” said Coach Miller. “We finally got back to what we do best. Shots in the paint and on the blocks. That's our game. It was a rough start but we adjusted well.”

Coach Evan Wyllie has a mostly young club at NCOE and unfortunately they sometimes play like their age.

After a pretty good start in the early going of the game, the Cardinals ran head on into a buzz-saw in the second half.

Senior guard Evan Healy led Norris City-Omaha-Enfield with 16-points while freshman Jack Riggs tossed home 12.

NCOE got 10-points from sophomore Trey Simmons as those three were the only double-figure scorers.

The numbers didn't add up for the Cardinals on this night.

Coach Wyllie saw his team hit just 19-of-45 overall (42.2 percent) which wasn't horrible.

But when you shoot 30 percentage points lower than the opposition, it adds up to a long night.

NCOE was only 6-of-19 from the 3-point line, a place where they spend a lot of time at.

Add to the numbers 16 turnovers, including seven key mistakes in the third quarter, and it was a recipe for disaster.

Gallatin County held a 24-14 rebounding edge.

This number could have been significantly higher for the Hawks, except they really didn't miss enough shots to produce many offensive rebounding opportunities.

Coach Miller's team ended up with just three offensive boards, a number coaches can deal with when the shots are falling in waves.

Those were the numbers, but the game looked like it could be a real close decision after a first quarter in which the Cards took a 17-16 lead.

After watching the Hawks celebrate clinching the conference championship by handing out the league's annual trophy in the pregame, NCOE took it right at the hosts early.

Healy nailed an early 3-pointer and converted a conventional three-point play for an 8-5 lead.

Simmons scored seven of his points in the first quarter on a 3-pointer and a pair of drives to the basket.

The Cardinals held the ball for the final :35 of the opening frame and Simmons converted in the paint with :02 left for a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

“You can't let them (NCOE) shoot 3's and then go get the rebound. You have to box out and in the second quarter we finally started doing that better,” said Coach Miller. “We always get their best game. I'm from there and I know half of the people that live there and year in and year out we get their best game.”

The Hawks finally got going in the second quarter on the strength of Goebel with eight of his points.

He scored Gallatin's final six-points of the half as he converted a fast break lay in and added a pair of baskets in the lane.

He took a nice pass from Hish for a score which closed the half at 33-26 Hawks.

“We told the kids, get Audie the ball in the paint and they can't stop him,” said Coach Miller. “And if he is covered he can kick it to you guys for a lay up. Tonight we had balanced scoring. For us to win in the postseason we have to have balanced scoring.”

While the area was experiencing an unseasonably warm night, it got a lot hotter in the gym in the final two quarters.

The hosts put on a clinic in the third quarter on how to defend in the half-court and how to convert when taking the opportunities.

A 7-2 run with Hish closing it with a 3-point bomb from the right wing gave Gallatin County a 40-31 advantage.

Goebel added 10-points to his totals in the third quarter, helping to close the stanza with a 12-2 sprint.

He scored six consecutive points at one point and then Hish, Rushing and Prince all added baskets.

During this time frame, the Cardinals coughed up seven of their turnovers while missing seven shots.

“It (handling the ball) is something that we have to get better at. At times we have been a turnover prone team. We aren't that strong with the ball, unfortunately,” said Coach Wyllie. “The second half was all them (Gallatin).”

By the time Prince closed the scoring with a fast break lay in, Gallatin County was in charge at 56-38.

“I thought in the first half we did a pretty good job (defensively) up until about two minutes left. We had pretty good energy and we were talking on defense,” said Coach Wyllie. “Our rotations were really good and we were rebounding the ball. But in the second half that all went away.”

Coach Miller saw his club hit 11-of-12 shots in the quarter as they turned opportunities into points.

Eight-straight points by the Hawks iced the cake with Prince and Walters scoring four each.

Walters long two-pointer pushed the advantage to its pinnacle at 64-39 with 5:53 left.

NCOE did go on one small run (10-2) with Riggs hitting a 3-pointer and added a pair of free throws to highlight the move.

But Prince and Walters added points before both teams finished up with reserves on the floor.

“Those (offensive rebounds) are all effort plays. That's on me. I'll take the blame for that. We have to go to the glass. That is something we hit on every single day,” said Coach Wyllie. “We struggled but I give those guys (Gallatin) credit. They can guard extremely well. They are not a very big team but they are quick. It has been a growing season for us and we aren't where we want to be yet. We have gotten better but there are times we go back to doing the same stuff. But we are working at it.”

NCOE (2-5 GEC, 8-15 overall) has one final regular season game remaining as they will travel to Thompsonville in a non-conference matchup Friday night.

The Cardinals host a 1A regional and will play Galatia on Monday night.

Gallatin County closed their regular season with the NCOE win and now they, too, will host a 1A regional next week.

The Hawks will open with Pope County on Tuesday night.

“Our goal was 7-0 in the GEC. It's been a frustrating year for us with injuries and sickness. We've been up and down. We've played great and we've played horrible,” said Coach Miller. “But we're finally healthy and getting better.”

Norris City-Omaha-Enfield
Gallatin County
Norris City-Omaha-Enfield (52) – Healy 3 3 1-1 16, Riggs 3 1 3-3 12, Baumgart 0 0 0-0 0, Simmons 3 1 1-2 10, Brown 0 0 0-0 0, Money 0 0 0-0 0, Richardson 1 1 0-0 5, Barton 1 0 0-0 2, O'Neal 0 0 3-4 3, Richerson 0 0 0-0 0, Travelstead 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-13, 3FG-6, FT-8-12, PF-7.

Gallatin County (74) – Goebel 11 1 1-2 26, Prince 5 2 0-0 16, Walters 3 2 0-0 12, Rushing 3 0 0-1 6, Hish 4 1 0-0 11, Reeder 0 0 0-0 0, Artman 0 0 0-0 0, Keisecomes 1 0 1-2 3, Henson 0 0 0-0 0, Seely 0 0 0-0 0, Wilson 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-27, 3FG-6, FT-2-5, PF-13.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.