Silver Streak reunion

 

By John Ring

 

A few minutes after the Galesburg Silver Streaks laid waste to Metamora by the score of 74-33, the players hustled to the east side of John Thiel Gym for a team photo— along with a bunch of former Streak players who came to the game en masse.

They represented three decades of Silver Streak girls basketball. Teams that helped build the program. Teams that went to State. Teams that over-achieved. Teams that played in front of just their parents and a few friends.

And most of them were from teams that won 20-plus games.

“Some things never change,” said all-time leading scorer and rebounder Sarah Larson, “and Silver Streak basketball is one of them.”

“I came in today and saw the same fans in their same seats. I saw the radio broadcasters and heard the same music before the game. I heard the same Hi-Yo Silver call. When you come here, you know this is home.”

Home is where Larson and her former teammates used to rout teams from Moline, Peoria Notre Dame and Geneseo. Home is where Streaks alumni Amanda Gunther used to beat up on teams from Rock Island, Rockton Hononegah and Morton.

“Seeing your former teammates is great,” said Amanda Gunther. “We cracked some of our inside jokes and had a great time.”

The Alumni Game is the newest in a long-list of Coach Evan Massey’s ideas that have usually yielded benefits. It’s a fact not lost on the current Silver Streaks. They took the game against Metamora very seriously.

“We wanted to uphold the tradition today,” said senior Brenna Saline.  “These players before us established it and we are going to continue it. Things like playing hard and playing good defense and diving on the court for a loose ball. We hustled today. We were scrappy.”

“They get better and taller all the time,” said Cammi Heimann, who graduated in 1991when the Streaks finished with a 22-6 record. “Back when I played, we had a good rebounder and a good ballhandler and a good scorer. But today, all the players do it all. They all rebound. They all handle the ball. They can all score.”

Heimann— now with the married name of Lawrence and living in Grand Rapids, Michigan— still gets home at least once a year for the holidays. “This is the first time it’s been done and I certainly hope Coach Massey does it again.”

“Better than a class reunion,” said former Streak Jaque Pyle, from the Class of 1982. As she watched a video of her team that featured former stars Amy Crisman and Teresa Powell, Pyle said, “You could probably see me on the bench with that team. It was a good one.”

Several different television sets showed Silver Streak highlights from years past. There’s Crisman scoring. There’s Molly Watson going the length of the court. There’s Megan Pacheco setting a ferocious pick. There’s Jaque Howard hitting a big three point shot.

Massey had a good handle on the number of players coming back. “I kept track from the emails and phone calls that I got,” said the Streaks coach.

“At Knox Homecomings, there might be four players from the womens basketball team,” said Heimann, who is also a Siwash/Prairie Fire alumni. “This is great. Women competing in sports hasn’t been around for that long of a time but obviously in Galesburg, it has made good progress.”

Heimann played on several good Silver Streak teams that were on the cusp of making it far into the Class AA tournament but never did. The trips to State started just five years after she graduated.  “I think it’s great how the Streaks have attracted fans over the years. It would have been nice, just once, to play in front of a packed crowd.”

The former Streaks noticed a few changes. “I loved them,” said Larson about the new Streak white home uniforms. “I liked the gray uniforms we wore because no one else had them,” said Amanda Gunther, who is now a senior at Drake University, “but watching this game today, they looked just like us, different uniforms or not.”

Asked if she knew about Saline before the game, Larson replied, “I heard she was going to Southern and was hoping it was at Edwardsville where I went to college but was told it was at Carbondale.”

Now a tall blonde instead of a tall redhead, Sarah was asked when that change came about. “About two years ago,” she laughed.

“But Brenna Saline, she’s pretty good. You can tell that she’s worked on her game.”

Ami Pendry, a guard from the 1996 Silver Streak team that finished in 3rd place, coaches high school basketball in Iowa. “But I’m still partial to the Silver Streaks,” she said. “The team they have this year has good size and has some good guards.”

They also have a great tradition.  That’s literally scared some former coaches at this high school on the boys side to death.  They never grasped the concept of turning tradition into an asset. It’s obvious that Evan Massey has. He relishes it, his current team does as well and the Alumni are proud of it.

“You know you’re home when you come out and watch Silver Streak basketball,” said Larson.

It’s a fact not lost on Brenna Saline, either.

“We like them, too,” said the Streaks guard of the Alumni. “There’s been a lot of great players before me.  I feel honored to step on the floor here at this gym. It’s a privilege to play Silver Streak basketball.”

“There’s a few stories out there,” said Assistant Coach Steve Peachey, as he looked out at the GHS cafeteria filled out with many players he coached.

The former players shared dinner, laughed and watched videos of themselves.

“It isn’t really that long ago,” said Pendry, “especially when you look at the pictures and the videos.”

It certainly isn’t. Pendry turns into Pendergrass and then into Annie Parkin. Howard turns into Jenna Bicego and then Shannon Williams.

The beat— and the beatings of teams like Metamora— go on.

But this is, as Sarah Larson said, Silver Streak basketball.