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Thursday, November 8, 2012

1997 Undefeated Streaks- Part I

With the 1997 Streaks going into the GHS Hall of Fame, it has caused me to want to go thru some memories.

In 1996 we had the greatest year in the history of Streaks girls basketball, and maybe to that point, the history of girls sports at GHS. The Streaks led by seniors Sara Wood, Jen Bulkeley, Ami Pendry, and  Jen Wright (hope not missing someone), went on a terror at the end of the year. They made it to State, and captured third place. It was a special year. As we left the floor after getting our third place medals, our two freshmen on the '96 squad were walking in front of me. Jenny Zolper and Sarah Larson were walking arm in arm as they left the floor. Zolp turned to Stork and said,"We're going to do this three more times." I thought, "Oh no, that is unrealistic." I shared with Coach Peachey what I had heard and expressed how unlikely that would be.

Well, that is a good place to start talking about the '97 team. I did not envision the '97 team would go back to State, it is just too tough to do. And I am guessing there were few others who imagined it would happen. But we started out winning and we just kept on winning. By January 1, we were an impressive 16-0. What was more impressive, only three times did anyone come within 10 points of us. Carthage (7), Alleman (7), and Quincy (8). We were not just winning, we were winning big.

In January we went 9-0, to up our record to 25-0. And during January, not one team came within 10 points of us. Our closest games were at Sterling (20) and at Moline (19). At some point along the line, it became a real thought- we may not lose a game.

We went on to a 27-0 record with only one regular season game left. Our last game of the season was at Rock Island, and Rock Island was clearly the best team in the area. So to finish the regular season undefeated, we needed to beat Rocky on their home court. We outlasted Rocky 53-46 for our closest win of the year.

With an unusual Sectional complex setup, we received a #1 seed in a Sectional with only 15 teams. We received a bye into the Regional championship. We hosted LaSalle-Peru for the Regional Championship. It was an eventful night. The Watson's scheduled a party for the families, coaches, and players after the game at their house. As a coach, that is never something you are comfortable about. I could only imagine going over after a loss to meet and greet parents.

And my wife was do any day, in fact she turned out to be due that day- February 20, 1997. Indications were she was going to have our baby that day. We went to the hospital. The doctor (I think being a sports fan) indicated it was going to be awhile that it would be ok to go back to the game. I should not have, but I did. We got ahead, and we kept getting ahead. The final score was 110-30. The largest win and largest point total in Streaks history. After the game, my wife delivered a couple hours later. The headline of the Peoria Journal Star was, "Baby Makes 111." It was an exciting time for the Massey's that weekend. It was filled with all the thrills of your first child and all of the not sleeping.

The next week we played Freeport in the first round of the Sectional at Moline. We came out ahead by a 56-42 score. At this point obviously being undefeated was not the big deal, it was just winning and advancing. We faced Rocky in a rematch for the Sectional title. It was another eventful night. No bus arrived to take us to Wharton Fieldhouse. So we loaded up in cars and vans, and drove to State. Quite honestly, even though it was a rematch with powerful Rock Island, I was pretty confident when we arrived. Our team showed such toughness, no one complained about arriving late, no one gave any thought about there being an excuse. Molly Watson was on fire, and we beat Rocky 71-58 to advance to the Supersectional.

That is it for now. Coming up next... our trip to State!!

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