The Moline girls' basketball team is undergoing a makeover with its offense. In some games, that might have been tough to watch.
Down 4-0 to United Township through three minutes of Thursday's Western Big 6 Conference game at UTHS, however, did not make Moline coach Tracy Sant Amour cringe.
"It's hard," she said, "but I've got to go with my gut. I have seen what these girls can do, so I have to say, 'I know, I know.'"
It's almost as if she knew what was coming. Moline went on a 17-0 tear to the end of the quarter, and used that burst to post a 61-47 victory.
"We are seeing the process improving," said Moline junior center Cierra McNamee, who had a dominant game of 14 points and 15 rebounds. "We are getting better each practice, getting better each game."
Early on, one had to wonder. The Panthers, who got their first win on Wednesday via a forfeit when there was Bartonville Limestone confusion over a signed contract, came out with a lot of energy and two quick baskets.
A free throw by Bralee Trice didn't seem like a momentum dent. Neither did an Amari Davis basket to make it 4-3. But, the Maroons keep scoring, and scoring, and scoring.
By quarter's end, it was 17-4, with UT committing a dozen turnovers and shooting just 2-of-13 in the quarter.
"We are trying to change the way we play," said Sant Amour. "We want to run. With the girls we have, there is so much speed.
"Well have some bumps along the way," but the Maroons continue to make strides. "We have to take advantage of that," the coach added.
If the Panthers could have eliminated that 17-0 stretch, not only would they have been in the game, but they would have had a chance at victory. Moline (6-3, 2-1 in the WB6) led by 13 (28-15) at halftime, by 18 (45-27) at the end of three quarters, and by as many as 23 in the final frame. With reserves, the Panthers (1-6) scored the last seven points of the game.
There were 87 missed field-goal attempts between the two teams, and each team was a tough-to-watch 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) from the free-throw line.
That, though, meant there were plenty of rebounds to go around. The Panthers actually held a 47-43 edge, with Jade Hunter snaring a game-high 17 boards and Jasmine Bell also reaching double figures with 10.
Yet, Bell was the only Panther to score in double figures, with a game-high 18. The Maroons, though, had three in double figures and another just a basket off.
Backing McNamee's 14 were Trice with 11 and Megan Pittington with 10. Amari Davis scored eight points.
Sant Amour said the biggest thing she saw in the game was her team's improvement on layups.
"We just have to get used to this type of offense, and the layups will start to go in," the coach said. "We saw that in this game."