There weren't a lot of smiles the last time Morgan Mammosser took to the basketball court to play for her uncle Craig.
On Thursday, expect many, many more.
The 4-year varsity player for the Rock Falls Rockets and the longtime head coach will get one more chance to hit the hardwood together during the SVM All-Star Classic – and neither can wait.
"I was very happy when you guys offered me the chance to coach," Craig said, "and Morgan was pretty happy to hear it. This is a great opportunity to have one more chance to coach my niece."
"I was shocked," Morgan added. "I didn't know he'd get the offer, and I'm excited to go out and play one last time. We felt like we already had our last game together, and it kind of ended in a bad way with a loss, and hopefully this time we can end with a win."
That last game together was a heart-breaking 50-43 overtime loss to Sterling in the Class 2A regional semifinals back in February.
This time around, Morgan will be joined by Golden Warriors grads Stephanie Kester, Bailey Oetting and McKenna Pearson instead of playing against them. In addition, Craig will also be coaching Morgan's classmates Jordan Giddings and Aubree Johnson one final time as well.
As she has nearly her entire Rock Falls career, Morgan will be coached by a family member. Her mom, Sheila, was her volleyball head coach the last 4 years, and they won 110 matches, three regional titles, a sectional crown, and set the school record for single-season wins with 35 in 2011.
This past spring, Morgan – a three-time qualifier and two-time fourth-place finisher at the state track meet – opted to play softball instead; her dad, Jay, is an assistant with that squad.
"I'm used to the family dynamic in every sport," Morgan said with a laugh. "I've really enjoyed having my uncle there pushing me and making me better the last 4 years – and my parents, too – and I'm excited to have it that way in my final game one last time."
As happy as they are to have one more opportunity together, Craig believes that the emotions will once again run high as the All-Star Classic nears its conclusion.
"The hardest thing about this season was pulling Morgan out of the game at the end of the regional in Sterling," Craig said. "I'm sure it will hit me again toward the end of the game Thursday, even though things will be a little more relaxed."
That's what the two Mammossers are looking forward to most. Not only do they know going into the game that it will be their final one together, but both believe the fun-filled atmosphere will allow them to appreciate it that much more.
But while the atmosphere may be less intense than a regular-season game, both Craig and Morgan guarantee that the competitive streak that runs throughout the family will rear its head at some point during the proceedings.
"At first, I think it will be laid back," Craig said, "but once the girls get settled in and used to playing together, that want to win is going to show through, especially if the game is close at the end."
"I think it's definitely going to be a blast," Morgan said, "but it will be a lot more fun if we win."
• 4-year varsity starter in volleyball; part of 110 wins, won 3 regional titles & 3A sectional title in 2012
• 4-year varsity starter in basketball; part of 61 wins, won 2A regional title in Sweet 16 run in 2011-12
• 3-time state qualifier in track; ran in 6 relays in 3 years, including 1A fourth-place 800 & 1,600 teams in 2011
• starting center fielder for softball team (25-5) this past spring
• 245-214 in 17 seasons as Rock Falls girls basketball head coach
• won regional titles in 2000-01 (Class A), 2004-05 (A) and 2011-12 (2A)
• led Rockets to 9 winning seasons, 6 20-win seasons
SVM All-Star Classic
When: 5 p.m. Thursday
Where: Sauk Valley C.C.