We've only seen one week of Western Big 6 Conference girls' hoops, but there are some things that already are pretty clear. When Galesburg and Rock Island play next week, it's going to look like a ping pong game. With each team running "the system," they'll be making substitutions like it was a hockey game.
That being said, that will be one of the most exciting games of the season.
The Streaks and Rocks have to be the league favorites right now with the rest of the pack more than a step behind. Alleman and Moline lock horns tonight at Wharton Field House, and that should give fans a pretty good indication of where those middle-of-the-road teams rank. Both have a lot of upside and should build in to solid teams come postseason time, but probably won't contend for the Big 6 title.
Quincy continues to struggle to win conference games. It's been 28 games since the Blue Devils have put a stroke in the "win" column, and this group of seniors want that streak to end. They're playing the Streaks, but it would be one heck of an upset if Quincy comes out of Thiel with a win.
United Township will take their shot at slowing down Rock Island, and will have to continue to get balanced scoring from their lineup while also being able to run the entire 32 minutes.
Game by game breakdown:
United Township (4-3, 1-0 Big 6) at Rock Island (4-1, 1-0): The Rocks are really going to be a beast for the Western Big 6 the first time through. Anyone playing them will have to really protect the ball. After seeing Rocky roll past Alleman, the reserves are tenacious on defense and create trouble. The Panthers have a lot of senior leadership in Jen and Jamie VanWatermuelen, and a sharpshooter in Tayler Dobrinske, but they'll need a whole lot of stamina to keep up with the Rocks.
Despite beating Alleman by 23 points, the Rocks left some unfinished business on the court. "We didn't meet a lot of our goals that game," Rocky coach Thad Hoover said. He was referring to a number of fouls that stopped the clock and gave Alleman the chance to not only catch their breath, but also creep closer. The Rocks are receiving attention at the state level too, getting ranked No. 8 by the Associated Press in the state's first poll of the season.
Alleman (4-2, 0-1) at Moline (1-5, 0-1): The Maroons and Pioneers are both looking for their first Big 6 win of the season. Moline is really trying to get their footing as their lone win came against Normal Community in a drubbing over the long weekend. Alleman, still playing without the services of Cierra Davis and Zoe Kelso, are learning how to play without the two expected stars. Anne Bohnert is averaging nearly 14 points a game, while Erin Morrisey is trying to make up the difference in the paint, scoring 12 points a game. The Pioneers also received some attention in the state polls that were released Wednesday, receiving votes in their first 3A poll after making the jump from 2A. There was only one other time when the Pioneers "played up," and that came in 2007-08 season, the first year of the four-class system. Alleman opened the season ranked No. 10 in the state according to the AP sports writers.
Quincy (3-3, 0-1) at Galesburg (5-1, 1-0): The Blue Devils felt like they "gave one away" last week according to first-year coach Demond Dade, and you know they would love to spoil the party in Galesburg. However, the Streaks have their ship steady as she goes, earning a ranking of No. 5 in the state's 3A top 10 poll released Wednesday.
The system is back at work and mowing down opponents with Jessica Leiber leading the way. The Silver Streak senior already has hit a milestone this year, and did it on a very important night. Last Saturday in the final game of the Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament, Lieber scored 22 points to lead Galesburg to a 77-40 win over Freeport. With those points, Lieber eclipsed 1,000 for her career, putting her in very select company. Only 13 other Streaks have reached that plateau. Some even more select company was on hand as the 1997 Galesburg girls' basketball team was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame that night. Watching Lieber reach a career goal was the team that went 28-0 in the regular season and finished with a 4th-place state trophy.
Dade is the new kid on the block as far as coaches go, hired nine weeks ago to take over for Greg Altmix,who resigned in September. Dade's daughter, Arai'ya, is a senior on the team and their most explosive player. He has been coaching the girls since they were young, including as an assistant coach the last five years at Quincy. Contract girls' basketball reporter Dan Tomlin at email@example.com
Today is Friday, April 25, the 115th day of 2014. There are 250 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: Never in the history of Rock Island was there such a demand for houses as at present. Our city is suffering for the want of suitable tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The choir of Central Presbyterian Church presented a ladies concert under the direction of S.T. Bowlby.
1914 — 100 years ago: Miss Rosella Benson was elected president of the Standard Bearers of Spencer Memorial Methodist Church.
1939 — 75 years ago: Mrs. Nell Clapper was elected president of the Rock Island Business and Professional Women's Club.
1964 — 50 years ago: Gerald Hickman, of Seattle, Wash, will move his family to Rock Island to assume the position of produce buyer for the Eagle Food Center chain of food stores. This announcement was made today by Bernard Weindruch, president of Eagles.
1989 — 25 years ago: Care & Share, formed in 1984 to provide food to jobless and needy Quad-Citians, will disband because the major part of a crisis created by plant closings is over. Food for the needy is still necessary. So groups separately will continue to raise money and collect food.