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Sunday, November 18, 2012

1997 Undefeated Streaks- Part II

After winning the Sectional championship over Rocky at Wharton Fieldhouse, we were headed to DeKalb to play Belvidere in the Supersectional. The game was to be played at DeKalb High School.

Belvidere was the team we had beaten in the Super the year before. They were led by Amanda Leavens who was headed to Old Dominion. She had been very good the year before, and she was only better. I think the atmosphere at the Supersectionals when we went to DeKalb and later to NIU were the most exciting atmospheres in high school basketball. The gym was not huge but it was absolutely packed. I don't remember all the details but I remember...

Doug Bruno, coach of DePaul was there to watch his recruit, Molly Watson. That was exciting and it was very exciting for Molly.

Belvidere played intense man to man, over play defense. We had a play we had used all year where we would hit Melanie Pendergrass at the wing. Seldom did we use it, but we had a back door play set up off of it. Something like 2 of first 3 possessions, Molly brought the ball down and hit Melanie on a backdoor. The play called for Molly to make the pass off the dribble and throw a bounce pass- she had it mastered and we have never been able to use it since-- tough play.

Megan Pacheco as a freshman backup post came in and scored in double figures. Numerous times she got the ball in the post and scored over bigger post players- dominating.

Right before half with less than 2 seconds left, we ran Notre Dame with Molly going long. She got a perfect pass, and with less than two second to go, caught the ball, stopped, put up a 15 footer at the buzzer to send us in to a roar at half time. Unbelieveable.

And then I still get chills when I think about the end of the game. As usual we had a huge student section, complete with all of our junior high teams. As the clock was winding down, the students started the best cheer in basketball- "No school Friday."  Wow!!

We had started a tradition the year before. We had media day after school the next day. Then practice at Knox College in the evening. Each year I brought in Rib Shack food for the coaches, so we would eat before practice at Knox and discuss plans. Honestly, at that point is hard not to be giddy. 

We got a great first round draw- Homewood Flossmoor. I just remember we thought they were very slow- and they were. We ran and pressed and won 66-42. 

Our matchup in the Semi-Finals was vs. Taylorville. Both of us were undefeated, downstate teams. This game had the largest crowd in the history of the girls state tourney. It was the second most exciting game in IHSA girls history- topped by our game in 1999 vs. Loyola. It is sad today when you see only 200-300 at a State tourney game. The roar when we took the floor was something. And you looked up and there were Galesburg fans all the way at the top of Redbird Arena. 

We got Taylorville's star in foul trouble. But after the large Taylorville crowd let the refs have it, she did  not foul out. It is a game we were in control midway through the fourth quarter. The ball did not bounce the way we wanted down the stretch and we lost a heart breaker- 67-61. 

We went on to lose to Marshall in the third place game. But it was certainly an exciting ride. 

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