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Dunlap 3A Regional -- @ASandoval_DA for Mon.; @Ness_DA for Tues.; @SteveTappa_DA for Thurs.
Richwoods 4A Regional -- @DanTomlin
The Class 3A and 4A girls' basketball postseason is upon us tonight.
Of the six local teams hitting the road, all of them think they could be hoisting a regional plaque by the end of the week. All of the teams are playing their best basketball of the season right now and familiarity should make for some interesting matchups.
Dunlap 3A regional
The Galesburg Silver Streaks (18-12) are the top seed and rightly so. The Streaks have defeated No.2 Alleman twice, and they've also posted big wins over IVC and Dunlap. Jessica Lieber is a real "X-factor" for the Streaks -- she has a determination and will to win that sets her apart. She's been a part of both of the Streaks regional titles the last two seasons.
The Pioneers (15-14) have been playing in 2A the last few seasons, last winning a regional title in 2010. Last season they were upset in the opening round but had just lost their senior star Zoe Kelso. This year, the opposite is true. Kelso's back, getting stronger by the game, and could be a difference maker in the postseason.
Geneseo (13-15) has been an up-and-down team this year depending on its defense to stay in games. Considered a heavy sleeper to win the regional, don't count the Leafs out as they've played several state-ranked teams close this season. Like Alleman, it's been since 2010 that the Leafs won a regional title.
Don't count out the hosts either. Their record might not be great, but the Golden Eagles shocked everyone by upsetting the top-seeded Rock Island on their home court in last year's regional-opening round.
Richwoods 4A regional
Again the top two seeds are right on with the host Knights (22-5) earning No. 1 after beating Rock Island by 21 at the State Farm Classic. Ironically, both Richwoods and Rock Island have lost to Peoria Notre Dame this year.
The state-ranked No. 5 Rocks (25-3) are a win away from setting the school record for most wins in a season and will have to play Western Big 6 foe United Township (18-12) in the opening round. The Rocks won both regular season meetings, by five in the first game and 17 in the second, and are sure to see a tough defense in their opening-round matchup Tuesday.
"I'm more concerned with Moline and United Township than I am with Richwoods," Rock Island coach Thad Hoover said after the State Farm Classic in December. "They know us so well and have seen us so much, they pose a bigger threat."
Coachspeak always says it's hard to beat a team three times in one season and the Panthers will hope to prove that cliche correct.
In the Rocks loss to Richwoods, state-ranked No. 9, they led by as many as 15 before having the table turned on them by the Knights' sophomore star Olivia Elger and Wisconsin-bound track star Brenna Detra.
It's probably good the Rocks didn't get the No. 1 seed. The top-seed has not treated the girls in red and gold well, getting upset in the regional semi's in each of the past two seasons while having the No. 1 next to their name. The last time they won a regional, 2009, they were the No. 4 seed.
It hasn't been since 2001 that the United Township girls have won a regional title, but Justin Shiltz's crew has all the intangibles to run the table. They're tougher than any Panther team in recent memory with enough talent to get the job done against any team in the state as evidence by their win over then-ranked No. 3 Centennial. The Chargers beat Richwoods for the State Farm Classic title too.
Moline (10-19) is playing in tonight's opening-round game against Pekin and no matter what seeds say, the Maroons are reigning regional champs. Reigning for the past five years, and seven of the last eight. Steve Ford is a tremendous coach who has delivered nine regional crowns in his 13 years, and with veterans such as Morgan Gerard, Emily Knight and Jordan de los Reyes leading the way, the Maroons could be poised to be the Cinderellas of the postseason.
So, no, seeds aren't going to matter much to the Maroons, who took Rock Island to overtime on the road a week ago and then knocked off United Township in their Western Big 6 finale. If they get past Pekin, they'll get their shot at an upset of Richwoods, which would set up an all-WB6 regional final.
For as tough as the conference was this year, it's not difficult to imagine an all-WB6 regional final in both 3A and 4A.
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