Originally Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2012, 2:46 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 29, 2012, 11:35 pm

Rocks lose in uncharacteristic way

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By Dan Tomlin, dtomlin@qconline.com

Photo: Clark Brooks | PhotoNews
Rocky's Cairece Allen puts the ball up for two points after driving by Senators' Megan Fetter in the 2012 State Farm Holiday Classic girls' large school third-place game. The Rock Island girls' basketball squad finished fourth at this year's State Farm Holiday Classic after falling to Springfield, 46-43.

BLOOMINGTON -- An uncharacteristic finish led to another loss for the previously unbeaten Rock Island girls' basketball team.

Rocky missed their only three free throws of the game in the final three minutes and failed to score in the final 4:27 as Springfield came from behind to win the third-place game at the State Farm Holiday Classic, 46-43.

The Rocks led for almost the entire game, and had the ball in the hands of their star, Shavonne Brewer, when it mattered the most. Brewer, a near 90 percent free throw shooter inexplicably missed both free throws that would've put Rocky up by six points.

On Springfield's next possession, the Senators knocked down a 3-pointer, then got a turnover and jumper to take the lead.

Rocky's Jacqueline Twing pulled down her team-high 10th rebound and was fouled on the next possession, only to miss the front end of a 1-and-1 that would've tied the game.

With the ball down 460-43 in the waning seconds, Brewer drove the lane in hopes of making an old-fashioned 3-point play, but was denied.

The fourth-place finish is the highest in tournament history for the Rocks, but that was little consolation after letting a win over state-ranked Springfield.

"That was just very uncharacteristic of us," Rock Island coach Thad Hoover said. "When you play a good team, you have to make those. I can't fault the kids though they've been making those shots all season."

Rocky came into the tournament seeded fourth, behind 6th-ranked Richwoods, who will in all likelihood be ranked in the top 3 next poll, 4th-ranked Springfield and 3A's 6th-ranked club Champaign Centennial.

"We need to get better defensively and be more consistent with our shooting," Hoover said. "We just need to keep shooting the ball."

Brewer ended with a game-high 16 points to finish the tournament with 60, ranking her third in the large-school tournament.

After losses to Richwoods and Springfield, elite teams Rocky would like to be mentioned with, the Rocks know it's time to get back to work.

"We gotta win more games," Rocky senior Cairece Allen said. "We're more together this year, our practices are 10-times harder than every before. We practice hard, we play hard and we all get along.

"Now we just need to get another winning streak going."

The Rocks head into the new year atop the Western Big 6 Conference standings at 4-0, and will probably remain in the top 10 in the state after a solid showing here this week.