DOWNS - Limiting a GCMS High School basketball team which had been averaging 65.7 points to 29 through three quarters, Tri-Valley was doing its job.
Then the Falcons went to work themselves.
With senior reserve Brad Johnson scoring nine of his team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter, GCMS found its rhythm and shooting touch in time to record a 50-42 Sangamon Valley Conference West Division victory over Tri-Valley.
"We wanted to go up tempo and Tri-Valley did a very good job of being patient and disciplined in their halfcourt game," GCMS coach Ryan Tompkins said. "We hit some shots and started being a little more aggressive the second half. That gave us a little more confidence."
The Falcons (20-3 overall) held on to first place in the SVC West at 7-1. Tri-Valley fell to 19-6 and 5-3 in conference play.
"It was one of those games that whoever hit shots first was going to get the game," said Vikings' coach Jon Nelson. "We controlled the tempo and got them frustrated. But they had guys who don't normally step up step up and hit some shots."
Johnson's second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter snapped a 34-34 tie with 4:07 remaining.
"That's something we've been able to lean on all season. We've had a number of players step up in different situations," Tompkins said. "This is a tough place to win. It was nice for Brad to come in and give us an automatic offensive boost."
Johnson and Tri-Valley's Bryan Benjamin exchanged baskets before a 15-foot jumper from GCMS' Ben Garrett gave the Falcons a five-point lead.
After a Vikings' free throw, GCMS' T.J. Hendricks blocked a Tri-Valley 3-point shot and took the loose ball to the other end for a layup and a 43-37 Falcons' edge at the 52-second mark.
"We started taking care of the ball pretty well, moving the ball around and taking good shots," Johnson said. "Something just clicked. We started hitting on all cylinders. It felt pretty good."
GCMS hit 7 of 12 shots from the floor in the fourth quarter but still finished at just 37 percent (16 of 43).
"Down the stretch, I was pleased with our poise," said Tompkins.
Tri-Valley senior Grant Jones connected on 8 of 11 shots on his way to a game-high 22 points. But his teammates were a combined 8 of 28 for 28.6 percent.
"The kids really executed the game plan," Nelson said. "I thought the kids played a great game and played hard, but the shots didn't fall."
Kyler Hardy and Vojtech Zurek grabbed six rebounds apiece to help the Vikings to a 29-24 rebounding edge.
Hendricks added nine points for GCMS. The Falcons committed 11 turnovers, four fewer than Tri-Valley.