“Last year we were really big, 6’2 and 6’3. We’re small but this team works hard day in and day out. They’ve been an awesome group to coach,” says Head Coach Misty Opat. “They work hard everyday and I enjoy coming to practice. They know what’s at stake out there.”
Although size is not on their side, it’s not exactly a disadvantage.
“We’re small so we’re really quick. So once we get it rolling, we score baskets back to back, play on defense together and just fast break, fast break, fast break. It’s hard for teams to stop us off the dribble,” says sophomore guard Marquiesha Grant.
The men’s team is on a roll. The Golden Eagles’ twenty-seven wins are the most in a single season in program history.
“They used to compete against each other obviously in the NIC-10 and surrounding areas. But the fact they just came together and genuinely enjoy playing with each other,” says Head Coach Craig Doty. “You can’t beat team chemistry. Add that with talent and we feel on any given night we can’t be stopped.”
Although they’re a young team, dealing with the pressure of a big game is nothing new.
“We’ve got mostly all-state and all-conference players in high school so these guys have been here before. They’ve played on a big stage before so going out and playing in a host region and playing in front of a few thousand people- that isn’t that much different than playing in a big game here in Rockford,” says Doty.
Former Jefferson J-Hawk Jared Mayes is looking forward to the tournament. “It’s very exciting. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for us. It’s my first time doing it so it’s very exciting,” says Mayes.
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