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Newman girls, Rock Falls teams set for tough competition

Hoping to get to a better state

Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 11:36 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 11:37 p.m. CDT
(Philip Marruffo/
Newman's Mary Alice Oswalt and her teammates will have a tall task when they open the State Farm Classic against St. Thomas More, the No. 1 team in Class 2A and the top seed in the small school girls bracket.

Maybe it's not David vs. Goliath, but Newman might want to pack some slings and stones.

The Comets have the task of taking on St. Thomas More in the first round of the girls State Farm Holiday Classic basketball tournament Thursday in Bloomington.

Newman (3-6) is the No. 16 seed in the small school girls tournament, while St. Thomas More (11-2) is No. 1.

The Sabers were last season's Class 2A state runners-up and were the top-ranked team in the Associated Press preseason poll.

St. Thomas More is led by AP first-team all-staters Randa Harshbarger and Tori McCoy, who is a 6-foot-4 sophomore that is ranked as one of the top 10 players in the nation in her class by Blue Star Basketball.

"We're playing the best 2A team in the state," Newman coach Jay Howell said. "I think we're excited to play a team like this. Our perspective is to measure ourselves. It can't help but make you better."

The Rock Falls girls also figure to have their hands full, with their first-round matchup against Brimfield on Thursday.

The Rockets (6-6) are the No. 11 seed in the small-school tourney, with Brimfield (17-0) No. 6. The Indians were ranked eighth in 1A in the preseason poll.

Brimfield boasts Illinois Basketball Coaches Association first-teamer Hannah Wallace, and the Dura sisters, Kennedy and Kerrigan. Kerrigan was a fourth-team IBCA all-stater, while Kennedy received IBCA special mention.

""They do a lot of things well. They're not 17-0 for no reason," Rock Falls coach Craig Mammosser said of the Indians. "They play mostly zone, and they play it well. They're not a big team, but they're pretty good."

The Rock Falls boys will also compete at the Classic. The Rockets (3-5) are the No. 6 seed in the small-school tourney. They open with No. 11 seed Fieldcrest (3-5) Thursday.

"We're excited to get away from home," Rock Falls coach Brad Bickett said. "The last 2 weeks we haven't played very well. We need to regroup, bond a little bit, and get back to playing the kind of basketball we're capable of playing. I truly believe we're a good basketball team. We just need some good things to happen."

For starters

(Local teams first-round games Thursday)

• 2:30 p.m., Newman girls (3-6) vs. St. Thomas More (11-2)

• 7:30 p.m., Rock Falls boys (3-5) vs. Fieldcrest (3-5)

• 9 p.m., Rock Falls girls (6-6) vs. Brimfield (17-0)

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