Girls basketball pushing for top three finish in NIC-10

Grace+Murphy+%28%2716%29+dribbles+up+court+

VIP Photos

Grace Murphy (’16) dribbles up court

Haley McCoy, Center Focus Editor

Girls basketball had a goal at the beginning of the season: finish in the top half of the conference and make a push to finish in the top third. Halfway through the schedule, that goal is still the same.

     “I’m happy with where we’re at so far,” said Coach Aaron Leonard. “Getting third place at the Burlington Central Tournament was a great way to start.”

     On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the team traveled to Dekalb to compete in a tournament against some of the best teams in the area. Going 2-2 with a strong final day, the girls improved their record to 13-11 overall.

     “We’ve already exceeded our win total from last season and we’re looking to improve upon that.” Coach Leonard said.

     On Jan. 8, the team took on Rockford East in a rematch of last year’s first regional game, a game in which East won. The story was different this year as the Blue Thunder left East victorious 58-52 in their “best win” of the season.

     “We’re a lot closer this season, and we’re more experienced,” said Brenna Rieches (‘16). “We’ve been through this before and we have an idea of what’s to come.”

     Rieches is one of seven seniors, six of whom are returning players from last year. Six juniors and one freshman round out the roster, and only five players overall are new to the varsity team. The girls are used to playing with one another, which contributes to the strength of the team.

     “I love that I’m spending this last year playing basketball with my best friends,” said Mara Halverson (‘16).

     It’s all fun and games until the season starts to wind down. The seniors played Belvidere for the final time on Jan. 26, ending the cross-town rivalry with five seniors on the floor and a 49-40 victory. Though the girls enjoy playing together and have fun all the while, there are still higher goals to reach.

     Grace Murphy (‘16)  summed up the focus of her final season of basketball in just one word, “Win.”