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SESSER — The defending champion Goreville Blackcats took the first step toward defending their title with a 56-16 win over Galatia at the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament on Wednesday.

“It was a good first round game for us. You want your kids to be ready to go and not get lost in maybe who you’re playing. I thought our kids discipline was really good today. As a coach you’re really happy to see that because I’ve seen some crazy things in round one at Sesser.”

Goreville took charge early, rolling to a 16-4 first quarter lead. The Blackcats scored the first eight points on 3-pointers by Luke Brown and Logan Hankins and a short jumper by Rhet Schuetz.

In the meantime, Galatia struggled from the get-go, turning the ball over five times in the first three minutes, seven times in the first quarter. The Bearcats also got in early foul trouble. Leading scorer Dominic Ammon was called for a couple early fouls and sat out most of the second quarter.

“Fouls, fouls were a big part of the game,” said Galatia coach Rod Wallace. “But, we were never really in the game. We just didn’t show up and play very well.

“They executed and our big guy never got in the game. He was win foul trouble. Our point guard is out, Braxton Lane, he’ll be back sometime in January. We’re just piecing it together the best we can.”

Goreville pushed the lead to 29-9 at intermission, scoring the last seven points of the half. The Blackcats continued to build on their lead in the third quarter. A 3-pointer by Kanon Webb with 1:16 left in the quarter stretched the advantage to 46-16.

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Junior guard Jackson McCree put together a four point play with just 51 seconds left, virtually assuring a running clock in the fourth quarter. McCree drained a 3-pointer while being fouled by A.J. Hankins and made the subsequent free throw for a 50-16 lead.

The Goreville victory sets up a rematch with Thompsonville. The Tigers, a 68-40 winner over Zeigler-Royalton, defeated the Blackcats by 17 points at Goreville earlier this season.

“They’re good,” Tripp said. “I feel like a lot of the mistakes we made were fixable. I feel like we did a better job in some of the games after that with the pressure and some presses. We’ve gotten better at that. We’ll see if it carries over.

“The kids know what is waiting for them. This group is really good and focused on what you’re trying to do. I feel like they’re really buying in. We’re always going to go back to last year, the things we did at the end. These kids were a part of that.”

Eleven players reached the scoring column for Goreville. Junior post player Landon Albright scored 10 while Logyn Frassato had nine.

Only three Galatia players scored. Ammon had nine of the Bearcats 16 points.

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les.winkeler@thesouthern.com

618-351-5088

On Twitter: @LesWinkeler​

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