Three minutes into Thursday's regular-season finale, the Rock Island girls basketball team was leading United Township 20-8. That was not completely unexpected. However, not one of those points was scored by Rocky senior Brea Beal, the Western Big Six Conference's all-time leading scorer.
That is what led to the biggest of many smiles RI coach Henry Hall had after an 88-50 win in front of a large crowd on Rocky's senior night.
"No question, we started the season with Brea needing to carry us," Hall said. "Then, we got better and better around her and we have incredible confidence right now. I look up at the scoreboard and we have 20 points and Brea doesn't have a zero up there. That tells me we are a complete basketball team."
Sophomore Brooklynn Larson made three straight 3s and a layup to open the onslaught with 11 of her 14 points. Hannah Simmer scored inside and out for five of her 16, and the Beal sat back and played facilitator for the league champ Rocks (26-1, 10-0 in the WB6).
"I don't think about the points, I know they will come," Beal said. "My biggest thing is to get everyone involved and shooting with confidence. I know now that every one of them will make those open shots."
That's not to say Beal didn't put up some amazing numbers as the Rocks ran their Big 6 win streak to 40. In fact, she had some out-of-this-world stats. She finished with 26 points (11-of-15 shooting), 10 rebounds, 10 assists and eight blocked shots. The win helped Beal set another record, becoming the first Big Six basketball player (boys or girls) to go 40-0 in conference games in their career.
"The focus has to be on Beal because we know what she can do," said UT coach Carie Walker after her club dropped to 8-16, 2-8 Big Six. "The only way you can play it is hope the other players don't make shots. They showed us they could in this one."
The Rocks ended the night with 21 assists on their 36 made baskets and all five starters reached double figures. It was just the kind of game Hall was hoping for.
"That was a lot of fun," he said. "We shared the ball and took what the defense was giving us. Brea just proves every game that she makes everyone around her a better player. We are so lucky to have two great seniors."
Carlee Camlin, the other RI senior honored on Thursday, made five of her seven shots and added 10 points and three rebounds. She loved her final home regular-season game, but wants much more.
"This was a good way to finish our last regular-season game at home, but we are back home next week for the regional," Camlin said. "I really want to cut down the nets at Rocky and play a lot more the next few weeks.
"I think what this one shows is we are a team and when we all do our jobs it is fun to watch. I don't think many people thought we could do what we have this year but we are a real family and we don't think two weeks ahead or to the end of the season, just to the next game."
Beal said having Camlin next to her is a huge help.
"It is great having Carlee by my side as a senior leader," Beal said. "It really helps that the two of us together can help with our peers and keep us together."
Freshman Imari McDuffy also had 10 points, six assists and five steals.
For the Panthers, Jasmine Bell finished with 12 points, Jade Hunter added 11 and Brandi LaFountaine had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
"Rock Island really flusters you with their defense and quickness," Walker said. "They were taking away the passing lanes and we just turned the ball over way too much. Give them credit, they do that to a lot of teams. There is a reason why they are 26-1."