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Brea Beal said she has worked on her shooting and ball-handling this summer.

Rock Island's Brea Beal

Getting better: Consider yourself warned. Rock Island girls basketball coach Thad Hoover says what Brea Beal sets her mind to, she usually accomplishes.

And she sets her mind to a lot in the offseason.

Take last year. Beal needed improvement on free-throw shooting, among other things, and she ended up leading the Rocks at the line this season, making 130 of 177 for 73.5 percent.

“She wants to keep getting better,” Hoover said, noting her all-state honors after her freshman season did not faze her. “She worked really hard in the offseason last year. She made huge jumps in the areas she needed to this season. And that was strength in the post, making free throws, knowing when to go inside, when to go outside, and in physical and mental maturity going from freshman to sophomore year.

“Obviously, if there’s a weakness, she’s going to work on it,” he added. “Whatever she can get better at, she will start to get better at this offseason.”

Hoover expects her to work on things like shooting after a bounce pass or coming off a ball-screen as well as her mid-range game.

Beal said she thought she improved this past year in making people around her better. The Rocks finished 31-2.

Next year Beal said her goal is to get mentally stronger.

“And definitely learning to take over when I need to,” she said.

Dealing with defeat: It was a little easier this offseason after losing again to Edwardsville in the sectional finals as the Tigers went on to get second place in Class 4A at Redbird Arena. But not that much easier, Beal said.

“I am still angry at the same time this year,” she said. “It’s a better feeling but I am still angry at the same time.”

College choice not imminent: Beal will be playing with her Chicago AAU travel team again this summer. She likes the fact that it pits her against bigger, stronger, faster competition in places such as Virginia.

“It will definitely get me ready for next year,” she said.

Beal, who has a GPA of about 3.60, said she’s far away from making a college decision. Among the schools she’s currently interested in are Michigan, Michigan State and Louisville, she said, while indicating things are not really that serious yet.

Honors appreciated: Beal made first team all-state in both the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and Associated Press team this year after being first team IBCA last year and second team AP.

She may be among the top five sophomores in the country according to ESPN, but she’s still a young person who enjoys those honors.

“The majority of the (players on those teams) are seniors,” Beal said. “It’s definitely exciting. Secondly, it shows people have noticed what I have done and how far I’ve come from last year to this year. People and teachers congratulated me throughout the hallways today, like non-stop. It made me proud of myself.”

And that was before she added Illinois Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year honors, which also thrilled her since she knew there were plenty of good upperclassmen around the state.

Dealing with expectations: Beal did not like some negative feedback she received after the Rocks were eliminated by Edwardsville the second straight year. She took to her Twitter account the first few days and responded.

But she has since had a talk with her dad, and has stopped responding.

“I was just very frustrated at that point in time,” Beal said. “But my dad (a former Division I player at the University of Texas El Paso) talked to me and said, ‘Hey, it’s OK. Everybody goes through that. Calm down and you will be OK.’

“I’ve gotten over it and the next day I went to the gym.”

Yes, consider yourself warned.

— Jim Meenan

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