It was not just the result that mattered last Friday night at Don Morris Gym for Alleman's boys basketball program. It was everything surrounding the game.
Besides beating United Township for the first time since 2009, Alleman successfully pulled off all the logistics involved with the first Big Six boys game in many years between Alleman and one of the other Illinois Quad-City metro schools at the facility.
In fact, Alleman athletic director Joe Conklin had to laugh when asked if all the fears turned into non-issues last Friday.
“We didn’t have any people outside in tents,” deadpanned Conklin. "We didn’t turn anybody away.”
Alleman actually was about 150 people short of a sellout in the 1,250-seat gym. Those numbers might have surprised some people, but not Conklin.
Conklin said ticket sales were studied over the last four or five years in the games against UT, Moline and Rock Island at Augustana College.
“No one is closer to those numbers than me,” Conklin said, noting it was a decision that was not made lightly. “We actually tried to find reasons along the way not to do this.”
The school worked closely with the city of Rock Island to create some more parking along 40th Street, which Alleman is located on. It also opened up additional bathrooms nearby.
Any problem that was thought of beforehand, Alleman tried to solve it.
“To that end, it went smooth and we were happy with the way it worked out," Conklin said. "It kind of gave some credulity to the reason we decided to do this.”
United Township did not even use the 200 seats it was given for pre-sale.
Coach Ryan Webber offered no complaints when asked about the experience.
“It was fine,” he said. “It was a Western Big Six Friday night atmosphere. It wasn’t any different than anywhere else.”
Alleman's Kyle Murray, coach of the surprise team of the conference so far, certainly enjoyed the results for the Pioneers (6-1, 1-0), who rallied from a 37-35 deficit after three quarters to win 51-45.
He heaped praise on the Alleman student section.
“I think that you start to notice it in the fourth quarter,” he said of the true home-court advantage for Alleman. “It took UT four to five minutes to score, and they were shooting into our student section bleachers. I do think that might have had an effect.”
The loudness of the fans in the Morris Gym may have given Alleman added energy to run and play the best possible defense, Murray said.
"The atmosphere, I think it made an impact on the game,” he said.
Motivated Maroons: Moline (6-0,1-0) opened the season smashing Quincy at Wharton, 62-28. Coach Sean Taylor's squad led 36-10 at halftime.
The Maroons, most people’s preseason conference favorite, are clearly coming ready to play.
“Defensively, I thought we were really good and active, and caused some havoc,” Taylor said. “Offensively, we just got off to a great start and that spurred on our defense even more.”
Taylor said he believes his team has great respect for the conference teams and the Maroons’ non-conference slate, too, helping the team come out ready to play.
“Our guys know they have to be prepared on a nightly basis," Taylor stated. "They’ve done a good job of being focused throughout the week.”
Rocks off to 5-1 start: Rock Island coach Thom Sigel is not ready to say the Rocks (5-1, 1-0) have gelled yet. Still, Sigel was encouraged by what he saw in the second half against Galesburg, and that the Rocks won their first two road games with wins over the Streaks and Ottawa.
There is still work to do.
“We had too many defensive breakdowns,” Sigel said. “Just little things where somebody is not doing what they are supposed to do here or there. Offensively, we get to where we hold the ball and stand around a little too much.”
He would like to see better offensive execution at Moline Friday.
Panthers look for a rebound: United Township (3-2, 0-1) hosts Galesburg Friday at the Panther Pit.
Inconsistency has plagued the Panthers, Webber said, noting that’s really a trademark of a young, inexperienced team.
Against the Streaks, he’s concerned with keeping 6-foot-4 Andrew Anderson out of the lane, 6-5 Jacob Carl off the boards and guarding the Streak shooters. Basic offensive moves like cutting hard and reversing the ball are among the things he'd like to see improvement in Friday.