Rock Island's Brea Beal
A class of her own: With her Rock Island career complete, Beal has cemented her legacy as one of the best basketball players to come through the Quad-Cities.
The list of accolades and accomplishments seems never-ending. Beal is the all-time leading scorer in Western Big Six history with 2,709 career points and added 1,306 rebounds, both top 20 marks in Illinois history. She averaged 21 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in her career.
She never lost a contest on her home court, undefeated in Western Big Six games and finished 114-15 overall.
She's a three-time Illinois Gatorade player of the year, two-time Illinois Ms. Basketball (possibly a third later this month), Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American and Jersey Mike's Naismith third team All-American.
It's quite a career, and the result of countless hours in the gym, sacrificing to obtain success.
"Being able to sit back and look at all these accolades I've obtained and just realize how I got here," Beal said. "It wasn't just, I'm going to show up for practice, I'm going to put in all the extra hours, the sacrifices I've made, my parents have made, especially when it comes to money. There's a lot of history behind all of it."
Now that it's all over, Beal's favorite memories will be the connections made, with her teammates, and the city.
"All the girls I met throughout my four years on varsity; the different characteristics they had, the personalities, the leadership, whatever it was," Beal said. "Overall, just being surrounded by a great community, no matter what, win or loss, they were always there cheering us on and had our backs."
As dominant as ever: There were some questions coming from outside the program to start the year. Though Beal was expected to be as prolific as ever, the Rocks had a new coach in Henry Hall and had to replace three seniors, including Chrislyn Carr, who earned Big 12 freshman of the year honors this season at Texas Tech.
For a brief moment, Rock Island might have looked vulnerable.
Instead, the Rocks proved just as dominant as ever, winning their first 15 games before falling in the championship of the State Farm Classic.
They rolled past Class 4A state champion North Scott in the IHMVCU Shootout, emerged unscathed for the fourth straight year in conference play and won their first sectional title in 28 years, finally getting past longtime postseason rival Edwardsville.
A team that could have taken a step back instead finished 30-2.
"Being able to trust the team that I had, they were all young so you had people looking in from the outside saying, 'They aren't going to be that good, they're young, they don't know what they're doing,'" Beal said. "At the end of the day, to be able to go as far with this young team ... even within themselves, even though they didn't want to admit it, I know they had some doubts themselves, just how young they were.
"To be able to push the team as far as I, (fellow senior Carlee Camlin), the other captains could, that just means a lot."
Pressure's off: For the first time in years, Beal doesn't enter this summer worrying about her future.
Committing to South Carolina last November took a lot of pressure off these past five months, and now that the high school season is over, Beal can relax and not have to worry about continuing to show the country what she can do.
"I don't have to worry about calling every single coach every single night, every other week, worry about performing my best for AAU just to get the offers that I want," Beal said. "It's relieving knowing you're secure for the next couple of years in a place you want to call home. At the position I'm in, I'm relaxed."
Busy spring: Though her high school career is over, there's not much time to rest for Beal.
She heads to Atlanta next week for the McDonald's All-American Game on March 27, then next month Beal will go to Las Vegas for the Jordan Brand Classic on April 20.
"Two of the biggest games a player can have the opportunity to play in," Beal said. "It's amazing, just to see how hard I've worked and to be rewarded, to play around these top girls in the country. These are girls I've grown around with in AAU so it's cool to end the high school season with people you're cool with."
There's plenty of fun to be had for Beal on those trips. The hip hop group Migos is performing at the McDonald's game and the destinations are sure to provide some unique experiences.
Beal acknowledges there will be some nerves, but also welcomes the challenge that comes with playing against the best players in the country.
"When I'm put in the position to play against people who are of my caliber or are faster, stronger, it makes me play a lot harder," Beal said. "You want to play to how you're able to play at that position but at the same time, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play at that level so you want to have fun at the same time."
-- Compiled by Bobby Metcalf