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Column: One last look at notebook

Early last week I approached former SVM sports staffer Christopher Heimerman with a question.

A couple of years ago, he wrote the definitive story on Prophetstown's Don Robinson. With Robinson being part of the subject matter for our girls “coach of the year” story, I asked whether he had left out any story angles.

Granted, it was a couple of years ago, but Christopher couldn't remember anything, and said that he rarely left things in his notebook.

After doing the story on Robinson and Eastland coach Colleen Finn-Henze, and the player of the year story on Oregon's Sam Lambrigtsen, I wondered how that was possible.

My notes for the two stories took up about half of a writing tablet. I'd say that I used about 20 percent of what my subjects gave me.

One tidbit that got glossed over was that Robinson and the Prophets' team bus stopped at the Rock Falls Walmart before their sectional game in Aurora to pick up his 85-year-old father.

It was a cute anecdote that I just didn't figure out how to work into the story.

Finn-Henze and I spent quite a bit of time talking about the area boys and girls basketball scene.

I knew there was something significant about that conversation, and how it relates to Finn-Henze's love for the game, but again it got left on the pages of the notebook.

That's true about most stories that I write, and it's true about covering sports in general. Not everything gets covered, no matter how much we try to get there.

Sticking with girls basketball, there were aspects of the season that just didn't fit into our nice little All-Area package. Here are a couple of those unofficial awards:

Favorite game covered

That's an easy one for me. The 1A Forreston Sectional championship game between Amboy and Eastland was a classic.

The Clippers set the pace, and led throughout before Hannah Hake hit the winning free throw with no time left on the clock in overtime.

It was a battle, and it's unique to have two coverage teams meeting in a sectional championship. Both teams also should be pretty strong again next year.

Coaching notables

Amboy's Mike McCracken gets one nod. He has plenty of talent, but it is all young. The team's getting to a sectional this year could lead to some big things in the coming years.

Another notable is Luke Ravlin. His name came up when I talked with Finn-Henze. She mentioned that the best coaching jobs usually aren't done by the coaches who reach state.

"I think some my best seasons were the ones where we weren't blessed with great amounts of talent," Finn-Henze said. "If you can get that team above .500, and get the team believing in themselves, that's a lot more work. When you have a lot of talent, sometimes you can just put them on the court and be successful."

Ravlin guided the Duchesses to their best record in more than a decade.

Most improved

The clear-cut winner in my mind is Dixon's Carly Hartle. While teammate Brooke Bailey is chocked full of natural talent, Hartle has put a lot of effort to improve her coordination in the post.

She made a big leap this season, playing a key role in a couple of Dixon's biggest wins, including a victory over Sterling. Hartle will return next season, and she has a good chance of being a first-team All-Area candidate.


Allison Prestegaard didn't get a lot of pub as the center for the AFC Raiders, but she did make an impact in the area scene.

She averaged 6.7 blocks per game. Frankly, there were nights when we'd get stat sheets from games that said she had 10 or 11 blocks, and we'd raise an eyebrow, but the blocks have been confirmed on tape. She's only a junior, so her swatting days are far from over.

Tough act to follow

We had two teams reach the state tournament, which I can't remember ever happening in the Sauk Valley area in girls basketball.

That's a big challenge for next year's crop of teams. Even teams like Prophetstown, which return a number of key players from a second-place finish will not take anything for granted.

"When we get back into the gym in June, it will be interesting to see how hungry they are," Robinson said. "That'll be the key. How much they want to try and get better."

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