Bailey, Duchesses looking to end season on high note
Brooke Bailey went to the sideline shaking her head after the fourth-quarter buzzer sounded on Thursday.
The Dixon senior had missed two free throws with 15 seconds left that would have put the Duchesses ahead of the host Geneseo Maple Leafs. Instead, the team was heading in overtime.
"It was hard coming to the sideline knowing that we could have won the game if I had made the free throws," Bailey said. "But, I've learned you can't dwell on things, you have to focus on the future. We had the overtime coming up, and I had to worry about that."
The future proved bright for Bailey at the charity stripe. She went 11-for-12 from the free-throw line, as the Duchesses picked up an impressive 40-33 Northern Illinois Big 12 West win over Geneseo.
"That's really a quality win," Dixon coach Luke Ravlin said. "Geneseo's a good team that has played some tough teams this season. Even doing it in overtime on the road is impressive.
"It's a sign of how hard the girls have worked, and how they've grown as a team."
Now, for Bailey and the Duchesses, the last test is set before them in the 3A Mendota Regional.
The Duchesses (16-11) are the No. 3 seed, and will play Streator (1-22) on Monday. A win there would match them up with Sterling (18-11), which took two of three meetings between the teams this season.
While Mendota (20-3) comes in the favorite, the chance exists for Sterling, Dixon and LaSalle-Peru – the No. 4 seed – to make a run to the sectional.
"You look at Mendota, and it appears they are the favorite," Ravlin said. "But, I think the potential is there for three or four teams to really make some noise. We feel like we can be one of them."
The last time Dixon played Mendota was in the opening game of the regional last year.
In that game, Bailey scored 29 points in a 51-45 win.
Both squads return the bulk of their lineups, with Mendota featuring twin sisters Ally and Abby Bromenschenkel.
"We didn't see them at all this season in nonconference or any of the tournaments," Ravlin said. "I don't think anyone in our conference played them. You can't really go by what happened a year ago, because we know they've grown as a team."
Putting up big points is something that Bailey is used to doing. The Truman State-bound senior has been off the charts since stepping on the court at Lancaster Gym as a freshman.
She is averaging 17.4 points per game, but admits there have been some ups and downs this season. One down was a 2-for-13 shooting night against Ottawa on Feb. 6.
The athletic Pirates made life hard on Bailey every time she touched the ball, but she knows that in the long run, there are benefits for her from games like that.
"It's all a learning process," Bailey said. "It's hard when you have a night like that and the shots won't fall. The team played so well, and I knew if I had shot better, we could have won.
"But, I have such great support from the team and coaches. They always tell me to just keep shooting, and that eventually they will fall. I put a lot of pressure on myself to score."
Some of the scoring pressure has been relieved this season, as Carly Hartle has blossomed into a threat under the basket. Hartle is averaging 8.2 points.
Shooters like Brittani Sohn and Tyler Smith also add a nice dimension to the Dixon offense.
Bailey, along with Maggie Provo, are the only two seniors on the Dixon roster. The Duchesses hope to send them out with a regional crown.
"I haven't even thought about it being the last time yet, or that I've played at Lancaster for the last time," Bailey said. "It hasn't sunk in. It's going to be hard to leave my teammates and the coaches that have really helped me.
"I am glad that I know that I get to keep playing after this. I know that it's going to be another step up. Just like it was when I moved up from junior high to playing here."