HINCKLEY – With just under a minute to go in the third quarter Lady Royal Jacqueline Madden thought her night was over as she was taken out of the game with her team up big.
However with Hinckley-Big Rock coach Greg Burks using the second half to try different player combinations and offensive sets, Madden re-entered the contest. Within seconds the sophomore guard had picked up her sixth steal of the night, which resulted in a layup for the final two of her game-high 16 points.
The Lady Royals went on to capture their Little Ten Conference opener over Earlville-Leland, 59-17, while also evening their record to 3-3 on the season.
“I wanted to go back in. I just like playing,” said Madden, who celebrated her 16th birthday along with Thursday night's victory. “I felt like I had a lot of energy coming out and in a game like this you have to try and keep the intensity high. I just wanted to continue to play my game the whole time. I had a few turnovers in our last game, we worked on it in practice and I thought we did a good job of moving the ball tonight.”
H-BR senior Abbie Tosch finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, while junior Lauren Paver chipped in 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
“This was her most energetic games,” Burks said of Madden's play. “With her and Lauren (Paver), they bring quickness on the floor for us. When we utilize that we are a pretty good team, but many times we over dribble and don't take advantage of fast break opportunities that we have.”
The Lady Royals used a mix of man and zone defenses to force 15 first-half turnovers and hold the Red Raiders to just 2-of-24 shooting as the hosts ran out to a 21-6 halftime lead.
“That's my favorite spot, it always has been ever since eight grade,” said Madden of being on top of the 1-2-2 defense. “Defense, getting steals and then running the floor, it's my favorite part of the game.”
Although only six games into the season, Burks is still looking for his club to play four solid quarters and admits he and his players are stills searching for the roles that will make them a tough team to beat late in the season.
“The scoreboard doesn't show it tonight, but there were times where we looked really good and other times where we really struggled,” Burks said. “As a coaching staff and players, we are still trying to figure out who fits what roles on this team. Even the players we have with experience are in different roles than the past. This is a completely new look Hinckley-Big Rock girls basketball team this year. Hopefully that translates into getting a whole lot better as the season progresses.”