PEORIA -- The Moline girls' basketball team got what they wanted -- another shot at Peoria Richwoods.|
The fourth-seeded Maroons dispatched fifth-seeded Pekin, 58-35, in the Class 4A Richwoods Regional quarterfinal, advancing them to play the top-seeded Knights on their home court tonight at 6 p.m. The winner advances to Friday's regional championship.
Moline (11-19) looked awfully good on Monday with Richwoods in the stands scouting. Seniors Morgan Gerard and Jordan de los Reyes gave them a lot to think about.
The duo combined for 33 points and 13 rebounds, with Gerard scoring 11 in the third quarter. In fact, Gerard was a perfect 5-for-5 shooting in the second half to finish with a game-high 18 points. De los Reyes ended a rebound shy of a double-double, spending almost the entire fourth quarter on the bench because of the blowout.
The Illinois State softball signee scored 13 points in the first half, driving to the basket and forcing the Dragons (7-20) to sink into the paint. By luring them in, de los Reyes and the rest of the Maroons looked to the arc as Gerard blew the game open. Becky Lankford also made a trey in the third as Moline put the game out of doubt.
In a strange twist no one in the gym had ever seen, Lankford and Gerard each made 4-point plays. Lankford banked in a three as the third quarter expired, and was hacked across the arm. Gerard made a trey with a Dragon flying in her face, knocking her down in the fourth. Both of them made the free throw.
"I've never seen two in the same game," Moline coach Steve Ford said. "It's hard to make that free throw most of the time."
The Maroons were a perfect 11-for-11 from the charity stripe, too.
Winning four of their last five games, the Maroons are playing confident and scoring more as well. Their last three games have been their highest offensive output of the season.
"We're being more aggressive to the basket," Ford said. "We're sharing the ball well, and we're getting consistent scoring."
The Maroon defense also held Pekin to less than 30-percent shooting for the game, while shooting more than 50-percent themselves.
"We're working together more and we're just playing hard," Gerard said. "We believe we can win, and this group of seniors are just tough."
Moline lost to Richwoods twice already this season, the first time by 23 and the second time by 20. This time, though, the season is on the line and Moline likes its position.
"We've got nothing to lose and we're confident," Ford said. "We got what we wanted, another shot at Richwoods."
The Knights are on a bit of a losing streak losing a couple of their final games, albeit to state-ranked Normal U-High and Joliet Catholic. Tipoff of the first semifinal is at 6 p.m. at Richwoods High School, while United Township and Rock Island play in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m. The two winners will play for the regional title on Friday night.
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