PEORIA -- How motivated was the Moline girls' basketball team to get coach Steve Ford his 300th career victory Saturday?|
For the first time this season, in their 20th game, the Maroons had three players finish in double-figure scoring and a fourth just miss with nine points.
For the first time this season, Moline also hit double figures in converted 3-pointers, shooting an uncanny 50 percent, 10-of-20.
And, it came against East St. Louis, the team that came into the Peoria Manual Tournament as the top seed, with the Maroons rolling to 53-34 victory Saturday afternoon.
Moline (7-13) came into the tournament needing two wins to get Ford to 300. Playing the top three seeds among their four games at Manual, the Maroons had to beat one of those to do it. They got it done with strong performances from just about every player in finishing third on the consolation side.
"It's pretty exciting," Morgan Gerard said. "We all wanted that win. We want to start off the new year right."
Had the Maroons not gotten win No. 300 for Ford vs. the Flyerettes, the next chance would have been against United Township on Thursday when Western Big 6 Conference action resumes.
Ford was more relieved to have his Maroons play such a strong overall game against a quality foe than he was to finally achieve the milestone victory.
"I know I'm the one who gets the recognition for 300, but it's the program that really gets the 300," said Ford. "It goes all the way down to the traveling squads, the reason for 300. Obviously we've had the players over the years, and the coaches involved in that time period."
Ford's record stands at 300-133 into his 14th season at Moline.
"We've been very lucky at Moline to have great teams and great coaches," Ford said, continuing to deflect the spotlight.
Though coming into a season that has had its challenges, he'll remember No. 300 as one that matches the way many of his past teams put up W's.
"It feels good to see it come back," said Morgan Gerard, who led the Maroons in scoring with 14 points. "Hopefully this gets us back on the right foot and we can keep these wins coming into the new year."
Morgan's freshman sister Lexie joined her in double figures with 10 points, and the 6-foot-2 center nearly pulled off a double-double in her first varsity start, finishing with nine rebounds.
Ashley Lewis came off the bench to go 4-for-4 from the field en route to 10 points, and Emily Knight had her best overall game of the season, hitting 3-of-4 3-pointers for a season-high nine points to go with six assists.
To round out the team effort, Jordan de los Reyes and Kristina Bozickvoic had seven and five rebounds, respectively; Hannah Ford had a team second-best three assists; and Becky Lankford, Hailey Cook and Marley Patrick were a big part of the stingy interior defense.
Outside of Flyerette guards Jaquaya Pointer and Dynomm Johnson (14 and 11 points respectively), the rest of ESL shot 4-for-28 from the field.
"Up until now, we had shown some signs and won some games, but in this one, we really got into the flow," said Ford. "Hopefully this is the shot of confidence we need.
"It was fun to watch."
And not have to wait until 2013 to get No. 300.
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