HINCKLEY – Hinckley-Big Rock girls basketball coach Greg Burks never has relented on coaching fundamentals, even when his team could rely on All-State point guard Kaitlin Phillips to carry the Royals each night.
But this season, fundamentals may be more important than ever.
After Phillips and Daily Chronicle All-Area player Katie Hollis graduated last season, the Royals are left without the star power that carried them to immense success over the past four seasons. But Burks hopes defense and a balanced offensive attack can lead his team to success, as they did in Monday’s 63-18 win over Hiawatha.
“I think the basics get forgotten,” Burks said. “We try to simplify the game, really, and that’s the main thing. When you have some balance and you can play fundamentally sound on the defensive end and you don’t turn the ball over on the offensive end and you get good shots, it makes it a simple game and it makes it a fun game.”
This season hasn’t always been a breeze for the Royals (5-5, 3-0 Little Ten Conference), who lost to Byron and Stillman Valley last week.
But Burks hopes his inexperienced team learns from some early failures.
“Hopefully we’re going in the right direction,” Burks said. “We’ve played a few tough teams here early in the season and a few times we’ve gotten it handed to us. You hope that can make you better as the season progresses.”
In Monday’s rout against a severely short-handed Hiawatha team, H-BR stormed out to a 23-1 lead before Savannah Campbell gave the Hawks their first field goal.
Sophomore Jacqueline Madden, who scored a game-high 17 points, had three steals in the second quarter, and the Royals led, 29-4, at the half.
“We weren’t expecting to do this,” Madden said. “We had a lot of energy tonight. We had a lot of energy on defense, and we like to steal.”
Two of the Hawks’ biggest contributors, seniors Dani Clark and Ashley Tamraz, played despite having the flu, and neither was her usual self. Both were forced to sit out most of the second half. The Hawks didn’t relent, pushing the lead to 36 by the end of the third, before Burks pulled most of his starters.
The Royals have rotated leading scorers throughout the season, and Monday was Madden’s day. The speedy point guard, who sat out most of last season with an injury, scored most of her points on fast breaks.
“It does feel like my first year, and the first games were a little rough,” Madden said, “but I’m getting a hang of it, and I’m trying to get better.”
Even with a big night from Madden, the Royals were able to spread the scoring around: senior Abby Tosch scored eight points, junior Lauren Paver had 11 and senior Bridgette Edmeier added eight.
“We’ll see them in a couple of weeks and it’ll obviously be a much tighter ballgame when we see them again.” Burks said. “That was probably, ball movement-wise, the best we’ve done this year and we got a lot of people involved scoring, and that’s what you’re hoping for.”