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Young T’wolves have big-game experience

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
Rob Winner – Indian Creek's Alexis Van Wyhe (center) looks to shoot while surrounded by three Newark defenders in the first quarter at the Little Ten tournament in Hinckley, Ill., Thursday, January 23, 2014. Newark defeated Indian Creek, 37-23.

SHABBONA – Indian Creek girls basketball coach Paul Muchmore remembers one moment of last year’s Hinckley-Big Rock Regional final when his team had four freshmen on the court.

The outcome didn’t go the way Muchmore and the Timberwolves wanted, with rival Hinckley-Big Rock defeating Indian Creek, 46-45, in overtime.

But there was a point when Madison Russell, Alexis Van Wyhe, Jacklyn Bouma and Josie Diehl – now sophomores – were in the lineup with Kate Thuestad, one of the Timberwolves’ two senior starters last season.

“I think I remember that I called a timeout and kind of looked around, it was Kate and four freshmen,” Muchmore said. “All of them played meaningful minutes.”

Muchmore hopes the experience from last season’s heart-breaker will pay off this year. Indian Creek (13-13), the top seed at the Class 1A Earlville Regional, opens postseason play at 6 p.m. Wednesday against Earlville-Leland, the winner of Monday’s quarterfinal game against Paw Paw.

“I think it’ll be nice that the girls that are sophomores, especially, played in such a close game,” Muchmore said. “We had a really nice crowd that day, too. I think if the game gets close, I think it’ll definitely help. Like I said, we’re young, but young with a lot of experience.”

With a win Wednesday, the Timberwolves would play either second-seeded Somonauk or third-seeded LaMoille in the regional championship with a shot at their first regional title since 1998.

But history isn’t something that’s on the players’ minds.

“We don’t really talk too much about it,” Diehl said. “We just know that it’s kind of a goal of ours, to get one of them.”

Muchmore said a regional title would give his young team confidence. He said he started bringing up regional play when the assignments were announced, telling his players which games would have an effect on seeding, although he didn’t want them to get too far ahead.

Indian Creek has beaten every team in the five-team field in Earlville, and topped Somonauk in both the regular season and the Little Ten Conference tournament.

This time, the Timberwolves are going into postseason play as the favorite. Although, they also have been on the other side. Indian Creek was the third seed last season, and wasn’t expected to play for a championship, let alone take the top seed to the brink.

“Anything can really happen,” Russell said. “You just have to be ready for anything.”

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