BASKETBALL

What went right? What went wrong? Galesburg's boys basketball coach reflects on 1st season

Matthew Wheaton
Galesburg Register-Mail
Galesburg High School boys basketball coach Chad Thompson roams the sideline during the Silver Streaks' 55-53 Western Big 6 Conference loss to Quincy on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 at John Thiel Gym.

GALESBURG — Galesburg High School boys basketball coach Chad Thompson has had some time to reflect on his first season at the helm. 

And how is Thompson feeling about the way things went for the Silver Streaks, who finished 2021-22 with a 23-8 overall record and 8-6 mark in the Western Big 6?

Well, the 2011 GHS grad is content.

"As a head coach, I think our record of 23-8 is a very good record and something for our team to be very proud of," Thompson said Monday afternoon while sitting inside his office inside Galesburg's locker room. "I thought as a staff we came in and had very good game plans. I think every time we played a team twice the second time we played them our game plan was better.

"We went back to the drawing board and put in a zone defense that we didn't have before winter break to having it after winter break. I thought that was something that was beneficial to our team," added Thompson. "You constantly saw the growth and evolvement as a coaching staff with me being at the top of that. You're constantly learning in this game and I learned things in Game 1 that I wanted to do a lot differently in Game 11 to Game 21 to Game 31. I'm constantly learning. I'm by no means perfect.

"Like I told the players, I'm going to try my best to outwork every single person that I know and keep learning and evolving both as a person and as a coach."

Rams end things for Streaks

Galesburg suffered a 46-33 loss to Peoria Manual in Bartonville last Wednesday night in Class 3A regional semifinal action and its season came to an end. The Streaks trailed the Rams by eight points after the first quarter and held a 15-14 lead at the half. 

Galesburg High School senior Koen Derry dribbles during the Streaks' season ending loss to the Peoria Manual Rams on Wed., Feb. 23 in Class 3A regional semifinal action in Bartonville.

"Last Wednesday, we struggled to score offensively. Manual came out with a really hard nosed defensive strategy against us. They really got up in us handling the ball, which got us out of our pick-and-roll and it's been one of our best offenses all year," Thompson said. "I thought our guys fought and fought. We missed some shots but I thought we attacked the rim really well — especially in the first half — but we didn't get to the free throw line like I thought we should have and that's just part of the game.

"Unfortunately even though we went in at the half with the lead, the physicality of Manual's on ball defense really bumped us off our spots and created a lot of problems for us offensively," Thompson added. "Defensively, I really liked our 1-2-2 zone. I liked our man-to-man but when we needed to force a couple of late game turnovers Manual was able to break and get some easy buckets and kind of push it open."

Read about Thompson's hiring here:New GHS Coach Chad Thompson will coach players he had at Churchill Junior High

Galesburg's seniors brought leadership

Galesburg High School seniors Alex Egipciaco (left) and  Jeremiah Babers give each other love during the Streaks' season ending loss to the Peoria Manual Rams on Wed., Feb. 23 in Class 3A regional semifinal action in Bartonville.

Seniors Alex and Dre Egipciaco, Jeremiah Babers and Koen Derry along with junior Easton Steck started for Galesburg. Senior Carl Dortch and sophomore Ian Dominique came off the bench and saw action in most games.

"The big thing with this team was the senior leadership. Those four starting seniors plus Carl Dortch brought a level of leadership and Carl doing it off the bench can be even more important at times," Thompson said. "They all brought a level of leadership that is just second to none."

Merveille Bile and Aaron Carl were the Streaks' other seniors.

Streaks had 'defensive tenacity'

When Galesburg struggled offensively this season, the Streaks were able to clamp down on the defensive end of the court and forced their foes into turning the ball over, which led to points.

"I thought as a team we got back to that defensive brand of basketball that Galesburg's been known for for so many years," Thompson said. "The last couple of years, we were much more uptempo, more up and down the floor with Jaylin (McCants) and Eric (Price). You have to coach to your personnel.

"I think we brought that defensive tenacity back and I think that helped us win some games that maybe we shouldn't have won and that people thought we couldn't win such as the Chicago Orr game. We really defended them well," Thompson added. "I thought we had an excellent shot blocking presence constantly with Koen. Our perimeter defense of Jeremiah, Alex, Easton, Ian and Dre is just second to none. I think it would be very hard to find a collective group that can guard like those guys do when they're all moving together."

Derry, Babers provided 1-2 punch

Derry, a post who saw limited action as a junior, had an average of 16 points and 7.7 rebounds per game to lead Galesburg in both categories. Derry netted 16.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in WB6 action. 

"The evolution of Koen Derry was huge," Thompson said. "He went from playing five minutes a game as a junior to playing every minute of every game as a senior and was our leading scorer. He shot over 60% from the field."

Babers, a point guard, netted an average of 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per outing for the Streaks. He led the WB6 in assists with an average of 6.1 per league affair.

"I think we had one of the best pick-and-roll point guards in the state of Illinois is Jeremiah. He really did a ton for us and he led the conference in assists. He really shot the ball well as the year went on. He got better and better shooting the ball," Thompson said. "We don't win 23 games without Jeremiah's point guard ability, without Koen's inside — and sometimes outside — scoring threat and then with the twins you just get that all out effort. They both have big game ability but seeing Alex and Dre on the court you know other teams go 'oh, those boys are going to be a problem for us both on the offensive end and the defensive end.'"

Galesburg High School senior Dre Egipciaco puts up a shot in the Streaks' season ending loss to the Peoria Manual Rams on Wed., Feb. 23 in Class 3A regional semifinal action in Bartonville.

Dominique will become 'an elite scorer'

Dominique was typically the first player off Galesburg's bench, and he averaged five points per game. Dominique scored 145 points this season and only one point out of that total wasn't beyond the perimeter. He shot just over 41% from 3-point territory.

With the loss of four starters, Dominique will step into a starting role for the Streaks in the 2022-23 season, and Thompson will look for him to score inside the arc, too. 

"Ian will have to continue to develop and evolve his game because this coming year he's going to have to step into being an elite scorer. We're going to have to have scoring from him inside the 3-point line as well," Thompson said. "We're going to have to mold his game and change it a little bit but at the same time we're going to keep that 3-point shooting and the toughness that he brings."

Galesburg's results

Record: 23-8 (8-6 in WB6)

Wed., Nov. 24: Galesburg 73, Dunlap 64

Fri., Nov. 26: Galesburg 63, Madison 44 (Thanksgiving Tourney)

Sat., Nov. 27: Galesburg 72, Limestone 54 (Thanksgiving Tourney)

Fri., Dec. 3: Moline 77, Galesburg 59

Tue., Dec. 7: Galesburg 65, Sterling 61

Fri., Dec. 10: Galesburg 59, United Township 55

Mon., Dec. 13: Galesburg 57, Peoria Manual 50

Tue., Dec. 14: Galesburg 76, Burlington 66

Fri., Dec. 17: Galesburg 76, Geneseo 46

Sat., Dec. 18: Galesburg 60, Bettendorf (Iowa) 56 at Iowa/Illinois Shootout,

Tue., Dec. 21: Galesburg 70, Kewanee 48

Mon., Dec. 27: Galesburg 63, Decatur Eisenhower 46 at Taylorville Holiday Tourney,

Tue., Dec. 28: Galesburg 76, Mt. Zion 58 at Taylorville Holiday Tourney

Tue., Dec. 28: Galesburg 53 Taylorville 45 at Taylorville Holiday Tourney

Wed., Dec. 29: Sterling 48, Galesburg 47 at Taylorville Holiday Tourney

Wed., Dec. 29: Galesburg 61, Dunlap 58 at Taylorville Holiday Tourney (3rd place game)

Fri., Jan. 7: Galesburg 73, Alleman 32

Tue., Jan. 11: Rock Island 84, Galesburg 63

Fri., Jan. 14: Quincy 55, Galesburg 53

Sat., Jan. 15: Galesburg 57, Gary Comer College Prep 46 (MLK Shoot-out)

Sat., Jan. 15: Galesburg 64, Chicago Orr 57 (MLK Shoot-out)

Tue., Jan. 18: Galesburg 60, Morton 47

Fri., Jan. 21: Moline 76, Galesburg 49

Tue., Jan 25: Galesburg 73, Sterling 48

Fri., Jan. 28: Galesburg 50, United Township 41

Sat., Jan. 29: Galesburg 52, Richwoods 43 (Manual Shootout)

Fri., Feb. 4: Galesburg 72, Geneseo 47

Tue., Feb. 8: Rock Island 59, Galesburg 56

Fri., Feb. 11: Galesburg 76, Alleman 34

Tue., Feb. 15: Quincy 65, Galesburg 57

Postseason: Wed., Feb. 23: Peoria Manual 46, Galesburg 33 at Bartonville (Class 3A regional semifinal)

Matthew Wheaton can be reached at (309) 315-6073 or at mwheaton@register-mail.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewlwheaton