ROCK ISLAND — The only similarity between Monday and Tuesday for the Alleman boys’ basketball team was that every player on the Pioneers’ roster got to play.
After that, it was a totally different night for the Pioneers.
On Monday, Moline was drubbed by Moline 82-43. On Tuesday, it was a complete 180 with the Pioneers (8-10) outscoring Geneseo 48-14 in the second half en route to a 71-45 win at Don Morris Gym.
“We challenged them to wipe the slate clean and come back with an effort that is more indicative of Alleman basketball,” Alleman coach Kyle Murray said. “I had told the guys last week that I thought we came out of the break a better team. Had we lost this one I think the guys would have thought I was full of it.
“I’ve just seen our concept of the game has improved where we have guys in the right spots and looking for the second and third options on offense.”
While Murray was happy to see his team bounce back, Geneseo coach Brad Storm was unhappy with what he saw from his team after a nice win last Friday over Sycamore.
“I don’t know what happened,” Storm said. “We were up at halftime but we didn’t play well in the first half. Then, the second half was just horrendous. They had the emotion and we had none. I told our guys Alleman would want to come out trying to prove something, and they did.”
The Leafs used 13 first-half points from Isaiah Rivera with plenty of help around him to build a 31-26 lead at intermission. In the third quarter, Rivera (23 points) scored the only four points Geneseo (5-11) scored in the third quarter.
“Isaiah had the worst game he has played all season,” Storm said. “None of our guys played well. We were impatient on offense and defensively, we didn’t defend at all.”
The Pioneers turned it on early in the third quarter behind Sam Mattecheck (18 points and four assists) and Chase VanDerGinst (18 points and eight rebounds) but maybe the biggest injection of fire came from junior Elijah Campos.
Having hit just one 3-pointer all season before Monday, he hit three in the late stages of the loss to Moline and then came back and hit three more on Tuesday, including two huge triples in the 23-5 third-quarter run.
“I just felt like I needed to get in and make my playing time worthwhile,” Campos said. “It helped to make those shots (on Monday) and the basket looked huge when I was out there (Tuesday). Coach just told me to let it fly.
“After last night, I think we all turned the page, but it was still hard because I have a lot of Moline friends and they were giving it to me pretty good.”
Murray thinks Campos could be a big plus for the Pioneers moving forward.
“We need a guy like Elijah to step up and make some shots,” he said. “If he makes shots it opens up the middle for Chase and teams can’t drop two or three guys inside on him.”