BLOOMINGTON — Rock Island girls basketball entered Saturday's game on a roll.
The Rocks were undefeated and coming off a win over Class 3A top-ranked team.
Despite those positives, a 53-44 loss to Union (Ky.) Ryle in the Large School championship game at the State Farm Classic wasn't any easier to swallow at the Shirk Center.
"No question this gives us some good vibes for the rest of the season," RI coach Henry Hall said. "Not many thought we would be 15-0 and not many thought we would be in playing for the championship. We showed them and we are only going to use this loss as motivation."
Added senior Brea Beal, who took over as the all-time leading scorer for Western Big Six girls basketball in the opening half, "We don't worry about what others think of us. We are going to use this to motivate us to be even better the second half."
Beal took care of the conference scoring mark early with eight of the Rocks' first 10 points to surpass Ruth (Kipping) Boden's mark of 2,287 points on a 3-pointer from the left of the key to help RI take a 12-10 lead after the quarter.
The Raiders bottled Beal up in the second quarter, holding her to just one free throw, but the standout senior did her work at the defensive end with three blocks and five of her eight first-half rebounds.
On the offensive end, reserves Ella Engholm and Brooklyn Larson combined for seven points to up the lead to 23-19 at the intermission.
The lead went to six early in the third but missed free throws (7-of-15 for the Rocks) and turnovers that turned into layups let Ryle get back in the game and eventually take a lead.
Once the Rocks fell behind, they couldn't find a big shot to get back in the game.
"Without question, this week is a huge positive," Hall said. "We will go back and look at this tape and make adjustments."
Beal finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. Brooklyn Larson made 3-of-5 3-pointers and finished with 9.
Brie Crittendon, scoreless in the first half, led Ryle with 18 points.