By AARON FREY
Special to The Herald-Whig
GALESBURG, Ill. -- Matt McPherson ended up with a bloody nose. Bodies for both sides were sent sprawling throughout the court.
Galesburg was left standing.
Facing a physical defense unlike any it had seen, the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team ended its season with a 45-39 loss to the Silver Streaks in the championship of the Class 3A Galesburg Regional on Friday night at John Thiel Gymnasium.
"I'm not sure I've been in a more physical game before," Raiders coach Scott Douglas said. "I'm not sure I've ever seen a game that physical before."
Galesburg (20-13) rode a suffocating man-to-man defense to advance to face defending state champion Peoria Central on Wednesday in the Peoria Sectional semifinals.
"I was basically in an arm-wrestling contest on the perimeter the whole game," said Raiders senior Alex Fitch, who scored a team-high 13 points. "It was the most physical game we've been in all season, by far."
The Raiders (21-8) held the Streaks to 13-of-40 shooting themselves, but a slew of second-half turnovers helped Galesburg pull away.
After Joe Williams' 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the second quarter gave the Streaks a 20-18 halftime lead, QND committed nine turnovers in the third quarter and had 15 of its 20 giveaways after intermission.
"We felt like we had something good going and then we let things slip away," said McPherson, who led the Raiders with 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.
An 8-0 run over a stretch of 3 minutes, 18 seconds gave the Streaks a lasting lead at 30-24 with 2:41 left in the third. QND never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
"We were expecting a tough game," Streaks coach Mike Reynolds said, "but we expected to win with our ‘A' game and our guys brought their ‘A' game."
While the Raiders lost their composure in the second half, Galesburg freshman Ethan Meeker kept his poise. Meeker, a 6-foot guard, scored 16 of his game-high 18 in the second half and had 13 of the Streaks' 15 points in the fourth.
"The freshman was huge for them," Douglas said. "He made some really big plays and stepped up big time."
It helped make up for an off night by Galesburg leading scorer Grant Gibson, who was held to six points on 1-of-8 shooting.
"We knew they had more guys who could hurt us," Fitch said. "We stopped their best player, but their other guys played really well."
Unlike Wednesday's nearly flawless performance against the Pioneers in which they shot 54 percent, the Raiders seemed out of sync all night against the Streaks and finished 15 for 38 from the floor.
"I'm not sure where the fault lies," Douglas said. "Sometimes they took it from us and sometimes we gave it away. We didn't do what we needed to do. It was an uphill battle all night."
Especially against a less-than-capacity but enthusiastic crowd that cheered Galesburg to its first regional title since 2001. Much of the crowd stood for the final minute after the Streaks' lead bulged to eight points.
"I've been through two last games of the season like this before," Fitch said. "You don't realize how different your senior year is until you're here."