GALESBURG — Playing in the Galesburg Summer League began at the beginning of the month.
And the GSL is a labor of love for Galesburg girls basketball coach Evan Massey, who has guided the Silver Streaks for 44 seasons and accumulated a 966-382 overall record in that time span.
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Massey knows it takes a collective unit to be successful, and Galesburg has been under his watch. Try 13 Western Big 6 Conference titles, 25 regional titles, 10 sectional crowns and five top five finishes in the state tournament for the Streaks. Galesburg’s latest regional crown came this past winter.
The GSL is a reason for the success, and it has grown to become the oldest and largest girls summer basketball league in Illinois. The GSL ran for 32 consecutive summers until action was put on hold in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The GSL started back up last June, which means this is the 34th summer Galesburg has partaken in it.
“When we started out, the teams we had to beat in the suburbs were all playing in (summer) leagues, and we didn’t have anything,” Massey said early Tuesday morning. “There wasn’t anything in the area at all, so it started out pretty simple. We would just invite five or six teams in three or four times in the summer, and we’d play. Then, we wanted something for the younger kids so we expanded to JV, fresh/soph, freshman levels and now we even have junior high.
“In terms of basketball, there’s opportunities that Galesburg kids don’t have that kids in Bloomington-Normal, Peoria or the Quad Cities have,” Massey added. “We don’t have a whole series of personal trainers for them to go to and work on their games but this is something that we can do and for one month in the summer Galesburg girls can have the opportunity to play basketball — seventh grade through 12th grade.”
GSL ‘really important’ for Streaks
GSL games began Tuesday, June 8 and run through Thursday, June 30. Like always, games are held Tuesday and Thursday nights. The only exception is Wednesday, June 29, as play in the league will begin at 9 am that day and conclude around 4 pm
“To my knowledge, there are schools that we compete against and they may be providing something for just eight or nine varsity players. If you’re not in the Top 8 or 9 there’s nothing for you to do,” Massey said. “For me, it’s a lot of work to run the league but it’s really important for our program in terms of development. It gives a lot of players the chance to play.
“The perk is — especially with gas prices — parents don’t have to drive 100 miles round trip for their kid to play,” Massey added. “They can just drive across town.”
Four ex-Streaks helping Massey
This summer, there are four former Streaks lending a hand with the GSL and in Galesburg’s camps. Lexi Daniels, who serves as an assistant coach for Massey, is among them, as is Riley Jenkins, Kelsi Legge and Kaylee Miller.
All but Miller put on a collegiate hoops uniform, and the quartet can relate to everyone in Galesburg’s program.
“One of the benefits of the summer program is all the former players we’re able to bring in,” Massey said of Daniels, Jenkins, Legge and Miller. “I think they have the ability to have an impact on all of our players that they work with just because they can relate to them so well.”
How many have played in the GSL?
Over the years roughly 1,800 teams — 19,000 student-athletes — have participated in the GSL and around 6,800 games have taken place. Galesburg has had about 1,500 girls play in the GSL and over 500 college students have used the league as a summer job.
In all, almost 180 GSL games will take place once June is over. High school teams representing Abingdon-Avon, Bloomington U-High, Brimfield, Canton, Champaign Centennial, DeWitt (Iowa), Elmwood, Galva Lewistown, Limestone, Macomb, Orion, Peoria, ROWVA/Williamsfield, Ridgewood, Riverdale, Rochester, Sherrard and Springfield are among those participating.
‘We can experiment with different things’
Galesburg fields a black, blue, gray, gold, red, silver, and white squad, which are filled with players in junior high and high school. The potential varsity Streaks players don black uniforms.
“Hopefully, it’s self improvement for all as individuals,” Massey said. “We can experiment with different things to see what may work with this group or may not work with this group.
“The group on the varsity level has done a good job this summer,” Massey added. “For us, it’s hoping they keep working and become more and more consistent.”
Galesburg’s only returning starter in 2022-23 will be junior Kiarra Kilgore.
“We lost four starters but we also have Capre Ferguson, who didn’t start but played significant minutes. Alexis Edgerson played a lot of minutes. Syriah Boyd played a lot, and Juniper Schwartzman did,” Massey said. “We have a host of other kids that have stepped up and are playing well.
“It’s been a good summer for us,” Massey added. “I think the coaches and girls feel that if we keep working we can be a group that can maybe compete for championships.”
What are the rules in the GSL?
The game rules are:
1. All games are two 18-minute halves. Halftime breaks are three minutes long.
2. It’s a running clock. The clock stops for time outs, injuries, and in the last minute of the game if the teams are within 10 points.
3. Each team is allotted one timeout per half. The timeouts are not cumulative.
4. There are no overtimes. If a contest is tied at the end of regulation, it is over.
5. Players may substitute on dead balls only. The bench should yield “sub” to the referee to get their attention.
6. Teams can play any defense or pressure. There is no pressing if up 20 points.
7. All two-shot fouls are shot. Teams shoot the bonus on the seventh team foul of the half, and super bonus on the 10th team foul of the half.
Matthew Wheaton can be reached at (309) 315-6073 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewlwheaton