Moline girls' hoops hoping more Sweet 16s in future

Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2012, 11:42 pm
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By Steve Tappa,
The Sweet 16 streak began when Jordan de los Reyes was a seventh-grader.

Now a high school senior, the third-year starter believes those sectional championship game appearances will continue, even after she leaves the Moline girls' basketball program.

"The future looks bright," de los Reyes said ahead of the Maroons' season opener Saturday at state power Maine West.

"Our senior leadership is really strong this season, we're a little quicker as a team than in the past, and I'm excited to play with the sophomores we have up (on the varsity). I've never played with them before, but they're a really exciting group."

Those promising 10th-graders include 6-foot center Marley Patrick, who likely will start Saturday, plus another 5-10 inside presence in Hailey Cook.

Longtime coach Steve Ford's daughter Hannah also is part of the "Next Generation" for a program that has won 293 games and six Western Big 6 Conference crowns in her dad's 13 previous seasons.

Indeed, the only downer in another 20-win campaign for the Maroons last season was falling short of a fifth straight league title to match those five consecutive Sweet 16 postseason trips.

"Injuries kept us from realizing that goal," recalled de los Reyes, who missed time with mononucleosis and a fracture in a foot. "That's what's motivating us this year. We want to get the title back. We want to get back to that (Sweet 16) game again, too, and we want to get a step further this time."

Of course, that's easier said than done, coach Ford knows.

"The league is really balanced again," the veteran coach said. "I'm not counting anyone out. It's so wide open, and everybody's so close, anybody can win it.

"But the nice thing about our team is knowing we have a good group that gets along so well and works hard together. We also have some senior leadership. We have some shooting. We have some speed and some size. We have a good mix."

Besides de los Reyes at shooting guard and Patrick at center, the starting lineup includes Emily Knight at the point, and fellow returning seniors Morgan Gerard and Becky Lankford at the forward slots.

The Maroons' guard court also includes Ford's daughter and returning juniors Kristina Bozickovic and Ashley Lewis.

The other forwards are senior Ellie Peterson, who was slowed by a back injury last season; a fellow returner in junior Lily Eastman and classmates Jenna Lawrence and Katie Finch.

Peterson and Cook also will see time at center.

"I really believe we have more quality depth than we've ever had," coach Ford said. "In our scrimmage last Saturday, everything was even, and the competition for spots keeps pushing us to get better.

"Our first game we play a zone team, and then we go to Galesburg and that frenetic style they play. But we're so interchangeable and can throw so many different combinations out there, I think we can handle both ends of the spectrum.

"The only question is who we play because the matchup will determine how much some girls play compared to others."

Coach Ford said that versatility will take time to use correctly, though.

The three sophomores and two junior newcomers also will have an adjustment period to the who's who schedule the Maroons annually play as a member of Illinois' largest of four hoops classes.

"It will take awhile for us to mesh," Coach Ford cautioned. "It may take us all six games through Thanksgiving before we find out what we really have and how we're going to use it.

"But it's going to be interesting to see what this group can do, and as the last few years have shown, we've gotten better by playing the best (teams), so as long as we're patient and stay together and work hard, good things will happen."


Meet the Maroons

Coach: Steve Ford, 14th season (293-120).

Assistants: Russ Kooken, Steve Eckert, Tom DeVolder, Adrian Ritchie (sophomore), Rufus Greer (sophomore assistant), Tracy Sant Amour (freshman).

Last season: 20-13, 5-4 Western Big 6; lost to state-ranked Edwardsville, 59-30 in the Class 4A sectional championship for the fifth straight season.

Returning letterwinners: Srs: Morgan Gerard (5-8 F), Emily Knight (5-4 G), Ellie Peterson (5-10 F/C), Jordan de los Reyes (5-8 G), Becky Lankford (5-8 F); Jrs: Kristina Bozickovic (5-3 G), Lily Eastman (5-6 F), Ashley Lewis (5-5 G), 

Newcomers: Jrs: Jenna Lawrence (5-5 F), Katie Finch (5-8 F), Sophs: Hannah Ford (5-6 G), Marley Patrick (6-0 C), Hailey Cook (5-10 C).

Schedule (all games 7 p.m. unless noted): Nov. 17 at Maine West, 3 p.m.; Nov. 20 at Galesburg; Nov. 23-24 at Morton Thanksgiving Tournament, TBA; Nov. 29 Alleman; Dec. 1 Cedar Rapids Washington, 2:30 p.m.; Dec. 6 Quincy; Dec. 8 at Peoria Notre Dame, 1 p.m.; Dec. 13 Rock Island; Dec. 13-14 & 22 at Sterling Holiday Tournament, TBA; Dec. 26-28 at Peoria Manual Holiday Tournament, TBA; Jan. 3 at United Township; Jan. 5 at Mississippi River Shootout at Black Hawk, TBA; Jan. 10 Galesburg, 7 p.m.; Jan. 17 at Alleman; Jan. 24 at Quincy; Jan. 26 Rockford Boylan, 2:30 p.m.; Jan. 31 at Rock Island; Feb. 2 Peoria High, 1 p.m.; Feb. 7 United Township, 7 p.m.


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Col. H.F. Sickless informs us that there will be new organization of troops in this state under the call for more men.
1889 -- 125 years ago: James Normoyle arrived home after graduating from West Point with honors in the class of 1889. He was to report to Fort Brady, Mich., as second lieutenant in the 23rd Infantry.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia. Germany and Austria refused an invitation of Sir Edward Grey to join Great Britain at a mediation conference.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Dr. William Mayo, the last of the three famous Mayo brother surgeons, died at the age of 78.
1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the biggest horse shows of the season was held yesterday at Hillandale Arena on Knoxville Road under the sponsorship of the Illowa Horsemen's Club.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Davenport is like a gigantic carnival this weekend with the Bix Arts Fest taking over 12 square blocks of the downtown area. A festive atmosphere prevailed Friday as thousands of people turned out to sample what the Arts Fest has to offer.

(More History)