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“I am as excited as I have been all season,” said Hoover, whose crew shares the No. 4 slot in the Illinois Class 4A rankings.
“We played great defense, great offense . there is nothing we didn’t do well. You can make 20 3s like (Thursday against Moline) but that is just a shooting night. We did this playing great basketball.”
Rock Island (17 7) led the entire way, staving off a couple of Bearette runs along the way. The biggest statement for the Rocks came near the end of the third quarter when they went on an 11 3 run to go from up 27 24 to leading 38 27 after three quarters.
What Hoover liked most about that run was it came through offensive execution.
“We played high quality basketball,” he said. “We attacked early, but our outside shots were not going in. Instead of settling in the second half, we ran our offense and got a lot of great shots for Brea (Beal, 22 points and nine rebounds) and Chrislyn (Carr, 16 points, four rebounds).
“This is a really big win for us,
” said RI senior Lauren Hall five points, eight rebounds). “We have played many national powers and we just needed to get a win like this to show we are still here. Butler is really good; they have one girl signed to Louisville and another Division I player.”
Hoover said it was not so much about proving anything to anyone, but to prove something to themselves.
“We needed to play well for ourselves,” the coach said. “The teams we have lost to have been outstanding and I believe we are outstanding. The difference is the energy we have come out with the last couple of games. When we play at that high level and execute what we can do, we are a great team.”
The Rocks’ 52 points were 19 more than Butler allows per game this season.
However, it was the RI defense that stood out, holding Butler to 33 percent shooting. The Rocks also stayed with their stars most of the afternoon. Hall played all 32 minutes, Carr sat for just 32 seconds and Beal missed just 2:15.
“It all starts with defense,” Hall said. “When our defense is good, it fuels our offense. I just thought we played with that energy. (Hoover) leaned on me,
Brea and Chrislyn in this one. He did a great job of using timeouts to keep us fresh.”