Moline and Galesburg were tied at halftime, and then Kiarra Kilgore happened.
The junior guard, who was a first team all-Western Big 6 Conference member a year ago, stormed out of the locker room with 15 points in the third quarter to lead Galesburg High School girls basketball to a 60-47 win over the Maroons on Tuesday at Wharton Field House.
Kilgore outscored Moline 15-4 in the third quarter and 20-18 in the second half.
She finished with 24 points, 11 boards and four steals after being held to four points in the first half.
“That defense in the first half was pretty good and we had help on her, but good players are going to be determined,” Moline coach Adrian Ritchie said. “Her determination just outweighed our defense. She’s very strong with her right hand, and so we were doing good at making her go left early, but she beat our help and she went off in the third quarter.
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“She kind of took over, and good players can do that.”
That 15-4 third quarter ended up being the difference in what was otherwise a competitive matchup.
Paige Melton had six points in the first quarter to keep the Maroons within 16-12 despite turning it over eight times.
Tahlea Tirrell got going in the second quarter and Melton and Tirrell finished the game with a combined 25 points (Tirrell 13, Melton 12).
“Paige is a playmaker for us and she has blossomed into a great basketball player,” Ritchie said. “She’s put in a lot of work to get where she is at and she was fantastic in that first half. And Tirrell is a gifted player. She’s only a sophomore, so we just want to continue to get her motor up so she plays hard the entire game.”
Moline was able to tie things up with Galesburg (4-1, 1-0 WB6) heading into the break with an offensive outburst in the final 90 seconds of the half.
The Maroons trailed 21-16 with 1:44 to go in the second, but Tirrell connected on a corner 3 before Sam Veto followed with another 3 to give Moline the lead.
Jada Tatum hit a step back 3 at the top of the arc to put Moline ahead 27-26, but a late Galesburg offensive rebound after a free throw allowed the Silver Streaks to tie things up at 29-29 at half.
After Kilgore took over, Galesburg led 44-33 going into the final eight minutes. She had 15 points and three steals in the third.
Moline never cut the deficit to under eight after that, but the Maroons never quit.
Galesburg was winning the rebound battle early, but Moline’s Nailah Anders snatched a game-high 12 boards after establishing herself in the paint in the second half.
“Nailah is a fantastic athlete,” Ritchie said. “She’s naturally powerful and is a monster on the boards. The more rebounds she gets, the better for us. Galesburg didn’t miss a whole lot in the second half, but when they did, Nailah was right there to get it.”
The game continued to get chippy in the final minutes. By the end, 37 total fouls were called. Moline committed 24.
The loss dropped Moline to 0-3 (0-1 WB6) on the season, but six players had significant minutes Tuesday that were not a large part of last year’s squad. The Maroons will continue to figure out their best lineup and Ritchie believes the team will only improve.
“This is a whole new group and we are still learning each other,” Ritchie said. “We have a fantastic athlete in Corynn Holmes that is picking up a basketball for the first time since third grade. Once she figures it out, we will be a lot better. Plus, we have some sophomores that are going to get worked into the fold.
“This isn’t the best version of us yet.”