PEORIA – Going into the 2012-13 girls' basketball season, Moline coach Steve Ford stood just seven wins from 300.|
Averaging 22.5 wins per season, he's still not there 19 games into his 14th season,sitting on No. 299 after Friday's 63-42 loss to Springfield Southeast in the consolation bracket of the Peoria Manual Tournament.
Though he knew of the number going into the season, Ford is not concerned about whether he gets No. 300 before the calendar year ends, with one last chance today vs. East St. Louis, a 59-27 Friday loser to Springfield Lanphier, in the tourney's consolation third-place game at 1 p.m.
"I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about the kids and taking beatings like you do with the kind of schedule that we have," said Ford, battling respiratory congestion for a second-straight day of the tourney. "But the girls have had a great attitude and have worked hard. I just hope it pays off the final third of a season.
Ford, with a career record of 299-133, called Southeast, 11-4 and coached by former Quincy coach Sandi Devoe, one of the toughest the Maroons (6-13) had met when it comes to defensive pressure.
"We've seen some pretty good pressure," the coach said. "But their front-court pressure might be one of the better ones."
That caused Moline into a lot of what they didn't want to do. The Maroons committed 27 turnovers and shot just 32 percent (17-for-54). They shot 23 percent (7-of-30) in the first half.
Still, Moline was right there, trailing 19-18 with 2:40 left in the first half, before SE scored 11 straight and then never lost its double-digit lead.
With leading scorer Morgan Gerard absent because of a mandatory college-prep test, an offensive spark was missing, too. Sophomore Hailey Cook led Moline with seven points. Freshman Lexie Gerard was tops in rebounds with seven.
"I don't know if Morgan being gone was a 21-point difference or not," said Ford. "But we now need to refocus on the Western Big 6, next Thursday. Our schedule has been challenging and demanding, and hopefully that pays off for us."
That will be the case whether Ford will be going for win No. 300 in that WB6 game against United Township or not.