Hawks 'blanket' Galatia
Wargel, teammates stop Bearcats' top gun Sloan in 53-44 win

Five-seven senior guard Trent Wargel is known around this conference and in southern Illinois as one of the top offensive point guards.

However one facet of his game has gone virtually unnoticed for most of his four-year varsity career.

His defense.

Maybe some people will start taking notice now.

Wargel put forth perhaps his best defensive stand of his prep career Friday night in the title game of the GEC Tournament against Galatia and their top scorer Derek Sloan.

Guarding Sloan for most of the game, and getting some help from his Gallatin County teammates, Wargel shut down one of the top gun's in the South.

Holding Sloan (averaging 24 p.p.g.) to just four points on 2-11 shooting from the field, Wargel and the Hawks took home their second consecutive GEC Tourney crown with a 53-44 win over the Bearcats.

Frustrating both Sloan and his Galatia teammates on the offensive end, Coach Robert "Radar" Patton's Hawks improved to 13-7 on the season.

"I usually catch the other teams' best offensive player and Sloan is one of the best players in the South," said Wargel, who is a four-year starter for Gallatin County. "He (Sloan) is a prolific shooter and scorer and I got a lot of help from my teammates on him. I try to use my quickness on anybody I guard. He got some looks tonight but my teammates stepped up, too."

Wargel also managed to run the offense well while scoring 16-points. He nailed 7-of-8 free throws, including his last four in a row to late in the game give his team another championship.

"Trent Wargel is a warrior and you can't say enough about what he does on the floor for us," said Patton, whose team has played in the GEC title game in all three seasons that he has been at the helm for GC. "Before the game I was going to put someone else on Sloan because I wanted to protect him (Wargel) from foul trouble but Trent came to me and told me that 'I want him.' With a player like that sometimes you let them make that decision and he shut him down tonight."

In the opening moments, the Bearcats showed that they were not a 'one man show.'

Seth Cockrum and Eli House stepped up for Coach Rod Wallace's club early.

Cockrum scored the first four points of the game for Galatia, taking the ball strong to the basket to stake his team to an early lead. Then House got a gift from Gallatin County on a basket interference on his lay in attempt and the Bearcats led 6-2 with 5:50 left.

After a Wargel basket, House and Cockrum hooked up again with House scoring on a back door lay in on a pass from his teammate and Galatia looked comfortable with an 8-4 advantage.

A basket by Gallatin County's Aaron Casteel and two free throws each by Wargel and Cockrum sent the game to the second quarter at 10-8 Bearcats.

Wargel started the second period with a score after a Galatia turnover. His fast break bucket tied the game at 10-all just seconds into the quarter.

Galatia's Kyle Hodson scored his only basket of the night as Cockrum found him with an interior pass for a 12-10 Bearcat edge.

But at this point in the proceedings, the Hawks began to show that they were going to be the champions of this tournament for the second-straight season.

The Hawks scored the next seven points to take command of the contest.

Wargel struck a cord with his only 3-pointer of the game from the 'top of the arc' to give the Hawks the lead at 13-12 with 5:59 left before halftime.

Casteel scored on a lay in to push the lead up to 16-12 two minutes later and then Wargel hit 1-of-2 free throws.

But on his miss, the ball ended up back with Gallatin County. Subsequently the Hawks' Kyle Oldham scored on a rebound basket which made it 19-12. This score prompted Coach Wallace to burn his first timeout with 3:43 left.

Cockrum would score again on a rebound basket to cut the margin down to 19-14, but Casteel hit on another close in shot as he got behind the Galatia defense after receiving a pass from Oldham.

After a missed opportunity by Galatia, Gallatin County spread the floor for the final 1:11 of the half.

With the ball in Wargel's hands, the Hawks ran a 'four-corner' offense. Galatia's unsuccessful trap attempts eventually resulted in an easy basket for Coach Patton's club.

Wargel dished the ball down on the right block to teammate Jesse Slaton. His basket with :05.2 remaining sent the teams to the locker room at 23-14 Gallatin County.

"We just didn't finish enough offensively tonight," said Coach Wallace, whose club now stands at 11-6 on the season. "Cockrum and House both stepped up for us tonight but Derek (Sloan) struggled."

The third quarter started out with Cockrum continuing to carry his team on the offensive end.

His lay in on a pass from Sloan cut the lead to seven points just moments into the second half.

But Wargel and Oldham, as they have done so many times in the past for Gallatin County, put together another solid offensive spurt to get separation.

Oldham scored in the paint of a nice spin move, which was followed by a pair of Wargel free throws as he was fouled in the lane by Cockrum.

On the following Gallatin County possession, Oldham stepped back and nailed his only 'trifecta' of the night from the left wing.

When his shot 'tickled the twine' the Hawks had their largest lead of the night at 30-16 with 5:18 left in the third quarter.

"Everyone that knows our team knows that Wargel and Oldham are my 'bread and butter'," added Patton. "They would be a lot of teams' 'bread and butter' too. They are just great kids."

Galatia could have folded up the tent at this point, but the Bearcats put together a late move of their own to end the quarter.

Cockrum, who hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut the Hawks advantage to 30-23, highlighted the 7-0 Bearcats' run.

Gallatin County regrouped with Casteel scoring on a nice reverse lay in.

Following another House basket, this time on a baseline drive, Bryan Hargrave scored his only basket of the game.

His drive in the lane with 1:07 left gave the Hawks a 34-25 lead heading to the final stanza.

"We have a good group of kids that that are role players. But they are capable of scoring when we need them to," added Patton. "Some kids can't accept that role of role player, but my kids have and it is a tribute to them."

As poorly as things went for Galatia in the game up to that point, the Bearcats still had enough left to make a final run.

Starting the final quarter with the ball, Coach Wallace's club scored the first six points of the frame.

Forcing three GC turnovers in a 1:28 stretch, Galatia quickly whittled the lead down to just three points.
Cockrum, Justin Wood and House each scored baskets in the run. When House connected on a baseline shot from the left side, the lead was 34-31.

However Gallatin County, like all good teams, responded to the Bearcats' run.

Wargel once again led the charge, starting a 9-2 spurt with a drive to the basket to make it 36-31.

Oldham once again got going offensively making 3-of-4 free throws and he also scored on a turn around jumper in the paint.

The two points for Galatia in that time period was Sloan's first basket of the contest as he backed Wargel into the lane and scored from close in.

When Oldham hit is final free throw of this run, the score was 43-33 with exactly 3:00 left.

Galatia got as close as six points in the final two minutes on a 3-pointer from House and Sloan's second and final basket of the game.

But Gallatin County, namely Wargel, Oldham and senior Phil Givens, connected on all eight of the Hawks' free throws in the final moments of the game to win the GEC title.

Oldham and Wargel shared top honors in scoring on the night with 16 each. Casteel did a lot of early game damage and finished with 13.

Galatia got a game-high 18-points from Cockrum while House added 16.

While the foul deferential was small at 16-14 Galatia, the Bearcats sent the Hawks to the line several more times in the game. Gallatin County hit 17-of-23 compared to just 3-of-9 for the 'Cats.

It has been 50 years since Galatia has won a GEC Tourney title. It will be at least one more year before the young Bearcats' squad gets another chance.

Gallatin County

Galatia (44) - Wood 1 0 0-0 2, Cockrum 6 1 3-7 18, Moore 1 0 0-2 2, Sloan 2 0 0-0 4, House 5 2 0-0 16, Hodson 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-16, 3FG-3, FT-3-9, PF-16.
Gallatin County (53) - Givens 0 0 4-4 4, Oldham 4 1 5-6 16, Casteel 6 0 1-2 13, Wargel 3 1 7-8 11, Slayton 1 0 0-2 2, Hargave 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-15, 3FG-2, FT-17-23, PF-14.
Fouled Out - None.
Technical Fouls - None.

The Cougars picked up their first GEC Tourney trophy in 10-years with the win over the Pirates in the third place contest.

Britt Belford and Ryan Frailey shared scoring honors with 19-points each. Jamie Fowler added 16 for coach Rick Williams' Hardin County club that is now 7-12 on the season.

Pope County (4-13) was topped by Bo Brumlet's 15-points while Jordan Bird and Michael Broadway chipped in 11 and 10.

The Cougars took command early and led 30-18 at intermission.

HARDIN COUNTY (64) - Belford 3 0 13-19 19, Frailey 4 0 11-11 19, Fowler 4 4 4-6 16, Davis 3 0 0-0 6, Spivey 1 0 2-2 4. 2FG-15, 3FG-4, FT-30-38, PF-18.
POPE COUNTY (53) - Bramlet 6 0 3-5 15, Bird 4 0 3-5 11, Broadway 4 0 2-2 10, Migas 2 0 4-4 8, Morse 2 0 0-0 4, Cornelius 1 1 0-0 3, Kizziar 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-20, 3FG-1, FT-12-16, PF-28.
Fouled Out - Morse, Broadway - Pope County.
Technical Fouls - None.