Brea Beal is no stranger to the nightcap of the IHMVCU Shootout.
After playing in the final game of the event the past two years, it wasn't much of a surprise the South Carolina signee drew attention throughout the night, nor was it a surprise that Beal rose to the challenge.
Beal scored a game-high 33 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and had four steals and a block to lead the Rocks to a 53-40 win over North Scott Saturday at Augustana's Carver Center.
"Just looking back to my freshman year, it's crazy how much I've mentally matured and physically matured," Beal said. "Senior year, to have a young team and be able to see what me and our other senior (Carlee Camlin) can do to lead them means a lot, it's amazing."
Beal and the Rocks went 2-1 in the shootout's final game since the event returned to an Iowa-Illinois crossover event and is a bit of redemption after the Rocks lost to Pleasant Valley last year.
"I think coming in this year, with a new coach, new players, we definitely came in with a chip on our shoulders," Beal said. "We went back to last year, for us it was embarrassing, it wasn't one of our best years at all. Coming back to it, we wanted to show the Q-C that wasn't us and this is us now."
The Lancers (10-2) started slow out of the gate, turning the ball over on their first four possessions. Beal took advantage, scoring the game's first nine points as Rock Island (17-1) jumped out to a 9-0 lead.
Grace Boffeli put the Lancers on the board midway through the quarter and Rock Island held a 12-4 lead after one.
North Scott battled back in the second quarter, taking a 14-13 lead with five minutes, 10 seconds left in the half, thanks to an opportunistic defense that forced Rock Island into four turnovers in the frame.
Rock Island countered with a 6-0 run to take a 19-14 lead but the Lancers rebounded with a 5-0 run to close out the half, capped by a 3 from Sam Scott to tie the game 19-19.
With both teams tied 24-24 early in the third quarter, it was Beal once again who gave the Rocks some cushion, with four straight points as the Rocks opened up a 30-24 lead.
"She struggled the first half and she understood that and knew we had to put her in other places," Rock Island head coach Henry Hall said. "That's what nice about her, you can't just watch us and see her in one spot."
Rock Island didn't let up, closing out the quarter with a 37-26 lead, forcing North Scott into taking shots from behind the arc, where the Lancers struggled all night, finishing 5-of-28 from the 3-point line.
"We switched to a matchup zone because man, we were just losing people and weren't rebounding and felt like if we went back to zone, at least I'd know there were five people in the lane," Hall said. "That kind of threw them off a little bit."
However, North Scott did get a good contribution behind the line from Scott, who scored 12 points from behind the arc, nine coming in the fourth quarter to cut the Rock Island lead to 43-38 with 3:28 left in the game.
"We were trying to hunt for somebody and she's got it in her," North Scott coach T.J. Case said. "I was really proud of her, we've been trying to give her minutes ... I thought she came through and did some nice things."
But again, Beal was too much for the Lancers, scoring the final 10 Rock Island points, eight coming from the free throw line as she was 14-of-15 from the line on the night.
"We couldn't stop her. I thought we stopped her on the initial stuff but second, third opportunities, she killed us," Case said. "She's a handful."
Case lamented his team's performance shooting the ball, as North Scott was 15-of-56 on the night and outside of Scott and Boffeli, who scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds, struggled getting others involved, especially with loftier goals ahead of the Lancers.
"This was a big game and we're going to have to figure how to step up in big games or we aren't going anywhere," Case said. "In these moments, we've got to play well. This is what it's going to be like to go down to Des Moines and we've got to have crucial kids step up."