An up-and-down season for the Moline girls basketball team ended with an up-and-down Senior Night on Thursday.
Moline dropped its last conference game of the season to Galesburg, 79-67, in a matchup that became very close and physical down the stretch.
The Maroons trailed most of the game until they charged back in the third and fourth quarters to take a 62-61 lead with 4:04 left to play. However, they were outscored 18-6 in the second half of the quarter.
Moline coach Tracy Sant Amour spoke to her team at halftime to get them in the right mindset for the second half but wished that they could have come out with the same intensity in the first half.
“We didn’t come out as aggressive as we should have at the start of the game,” Sant Amour said. “I was not happy with how the team was content on defense. That’s not the way we wanted to end the regular season.”
Moline (19-12, 8-6) had six seniors that they honored before the game (Whitney Taylor, Kelsi Curtis, Tessa Thompson, Claire Eaton, Ali Burroughs and Cierra McNamee), and Sant Amour has mixed feelings about the celebration.
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“I love it but I don’t,” Sant Amour said. “It’s an emotional night for the entire team, but we need to play our game for four quarters.”
Galesburg (18-13, 6-8) was led by Riley Jenkins, who had 37 points on 9-of-14 from the field and 13-of-14 from the free-throw line. The junior sharpshooter went 6-of-8 from 3-point range and hit tough shots for the Silver Streaks.
“She is always so important for us,” Galesburg coach Evan Massey said. “What went unnoticed was the way Lauren (Livingston) and Chelsea (Stevenson) opened her up to shots by being great passers and moving the ball around.”
Moline switched to a box-and-one to attempt to contain Jenkins later in the game, but she was still able to hit the shots through pressure.
“It was very impressive the performance that she had,” Sant Amour said. “We knew she was a shooter and we didn’t do a great job defending her.”
Galesburg as a team shot an impressive 27-of-45 from the field and 23-of-28 from the free-throw line.
Moving forward, the Maroons will face Joliet Central at the Joliet West regional at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Sant Amour hopes that her team will be ready to face the challenge of the postseason.
“We have amazing leaders that I try to put the focus on,” Sant Amour said. “Our seniors talked after the game and spoke on how the next game is what really matters and we’ll use this game as fuel for the fire.”