Silver Streaks Pass Maine West Test

 

By John Ring

 

       Some coaches would panic.

       Some coaches would already be making excuses.

       But Evan Massey isn’t one of those coaches.

       Massey’s Silver Streak basketball team was pretty much decimated by graduation losses. Five of his top seven players are gone from last years team that finished with a  24-8 record.

       Add to the mix that his lone returning senior--- Whitney Dehler--- hasn’t played at all this summer because of a knee injury suffered last year.

       But Massey plugged away. He hasn’t whined or cried. He’s just been honest. Maybe that’s why Galesburg basketball fans appreciate him so much.

Galesburg had a so-so .500 record this summer, a time when records are more incidental than the practical experience of playing. Then the Streaks took their annual trip to Maine West this past weekend.

       “We had a very good weekend,” said Massey. They did indeed; they knocked off Sandburg, Maine West, Elmhurst York and Buffalo Grove, losing only to Hersey. That’s some good results against some very good competition..

       “We have found that going up there is always a good experience because the suburban kids have spent most of the spring playing and are so organized in the summer that you have to handle a lot of situations,” said the Streaks coach. “

       “We talked at the beginning of summer about having a lot of improvement to make and while we still have a lot of work to do, the girls have made great improvement in the last three weeks.”

       Returning for Galesburg next season is one starter in Jessica Howard, who will be a sophomore. Dehler started the first 12 games of the season before injuring her knee. Others that saw significant varsity time were junior Sara Baker and juniors Maddy Boyer and Myneka Warner later in the season.

       “Katarina Mangieri and Baylie Boyer handled the point guard position and really did a good job pushing the ball and getting us running,” said Massey about the trip to Maine West. “Baker, Warner and Shelby Pacheco were pretty good on the boards.”

       It’s clearly a rebuilding year for the Silver Streaks, something Massey really hasn’t dealt with in a few years. “I don’t think people are going to view us as being one of the top teams in the area but the positive is our juniors have won at every level they have played at.”

       Galesburg’s defense was consistent last year but the offense sputtered. It started to show in losses to New Trier (34-27) and Moline (37-34) but bottomed out in the Regionals when Rock Island Alleman defeated the Streaks 35-25 and limited them to just one basket in the first quarter. “A horrible shooting night,” conceded Massey. “We couldn’t get any consistency because of our shooting, In the Western Big 6, it’s pretty much smash-mouth defense and the physical play has really caused a lower scoring game to occur in girls basketball.”

       “But I am really, really happy with this groups approach this summer. With our lack of experience and with our only senior still out, the groups work ethic and sense of team has really been impressive. Last week, we had eight players ask me to open the gym to come and in and shoot extra and as coach, it really makes it exciting to see that kind of commitment.”

       Howard started as a freshman, surrounded by four seniors. Her job was basically to score and she shot a lot from the outside and the seniors put her in a comfort zone. Massey didn’t ask Howard to do a lot and most freshman can’t at that age. Baker was a substitute guard but was moved to the post this off season. Massey already sees some improvement from both. “Jessica is shooting better and she is also doing good things off the dribble. Sara Baker gives us another ballhandler on the floor and she’s adjusting well. Warner and Boyer gave us big minutes late in the season and Mangieri has had a great spring and put herself in the mix for playing varsity.”

       “I’m hopeful we will have better depth this year. Every coach says that they want to run and I’m no different. To be successful, we need to have presses that other teams will prepare for so we need to have that ability.”

       The Streaks finished second in the Big 6 to a Moline team that sailed through conference play undefeated while Galesburg finished a distant second with a 7-3 record. “Moline is going to be good again because they lost just one starter,” said Massey, “and Richwoods is going to be very good as well.”

       “A work in progress,” is how Massey describes his Streaks at this point. And while he’s smart enough to know predictions this early are treacherous territory, he did conclude by saying, “We’ll be all right.”

They’ve been a little more than “all right” in the last twenty years despite the lowest enrollment of any public school in a rugged conference. Massey’s description of smash-mouth defense is correct. You don’t see it in the Mid State 6 or the NIC-9 or any conference from downstate.

Silver Streak girls basketball has used this as a competitive strength instead of as an excuse. For that, Coach Massey and Mike Rux should be applauded.

It’s a “we can do this” approach instead of “we can’t do this because of” excuse.

Good for them. Good for us. Good for Galesburg.

Keep firing those shots, girls.

 

Top 5 Rivals

(This changes over the course of years. Peoria Manual would have been in the mix years ago but their program has collapsed.)

1. Moline: Has dominated the Western Big 6 at times like Galesburg has done. Big enrollment advantage over the Streaks and they play at Wharton Field House.

2. Peoria Richwoods: Always a strong competitor in the Peoria region. Peaked a few years ago when the Knights won it all but still strong.

3. Rock Island: Shouldn’t lessen even though Leatherman is gone.

4. Quincy: Quincy is Quincy. It’s that simple. We don’t like them, they don’t like us. Case closed.

5. Morton: Put them in this category because of the downfall of Manual, Dixon and Geneseo.

 

Top 5 Broadcasters

1. Dave Klockenga: Will always be known locally as the Voice of Silver Streak girls basketball. Helped expose the program while at WAIK for its excellence and substance. A constant, always there.

2. Jerry Hise. Klockenga’s sidekick. It was obvious they enjoyed each others company and it reflected in their broadcasts. Marty and Joe in Galesburg.

3. Jim Wyman: Made quite an impact his first year with WGIL. Strong broadcasting background with Galesburg ties. Hope he sticks around.

4. Amy Fort: Nice addition for a few years based on her coaching experience at Knox College.

5. Tom Meredith: Great sports background, veteran broadcaster.

 

Top 5 Dynamic Duos

1. Watson-Wood-Pendry: OK we cheated here but The Three Amigas were actually the Trail Blazers for the Silver Streaks. Took Galesburg to a 3rd place finish in 1996 and broke down a ton of barriers for this program. Fans loved them.

2. Bicego-Wright: Hard to imagine how many points LaToya Wright scored off fast break long passes from Jenna Bicego. They played together just one year but were a fantastic combination to watch on the fast break. Wright had the speed, Bicego had the eyes and a passers touch.

3. Pacheco-Pacheco: Sisters Megan and Sarah both started for the 1999 Streak team that finished 2nd in the State. Both were fearless on the court and brutally physical.

4. Parkin-Gunther: Both Annie Parkin and Amanda Gunther broke in together as freshmen and kept Galesburg at a high level for four years.

5. Saline-Anderson: Same recipe for these two. Saline blossomed earlier but Anderson made herself a better player, very similar to Sara Wood. Inseparable. Keep the program at a high level.

 

6/26/08