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Basketball: Cougars hit court together again

Eastland trio ready to enjoy final high school game as teammates

Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 11:52 p.m. CDT
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(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Eastland's Courtney Walker lets go of a runner Tuesday night against Galena at the Class 1A Forreston Sectional.

For as long as she can remember, Eastland senior point guard Courtney Walker has seen classmate Miranda Grisham in the post pretty much whenever she sets up at the top of the key.

Her final high school game won't be any different.

Walker, Grisham, and teammate Hannah Hake will lace up their sneakers one last time together, playing for the Telegraph team in the 2014 SVM All-Star Classic on Thursday evening.

"With them in the post and me as the guard, it's going to be just like it always has been," Walker said. "All I have to do is dish it to them, and let them get after it. It's basically instinct … and almost like we're back down at state."

Those memories of February's run to the Class 1A state tournament have been fresh on the three Cougars' minds for the past couple of weeks, during the run-up and preparation for various all-star games they've played in together.

"It's been so awesome, just kind of re-living our senior season," Grisham said. "We went to practice in Oregon last Thursday, and it was so much fun. I even got to guard Hannah a few times, and we were joking around and having a good time.

"It's not the same atmosphere, and it'll never again be as good as state, but it's great being with them again."

It won't necessarily be the final time for the teammates to play together. Walker and Grisham are planning to play in a 3-on-3 tournament in Stockton, and Grisham and Hake will be teammates the next 2 years at Highland College in Freeport.

But the unique opportunity to reminisce about their third-place state trophy, as well as play for the love of the game, is one all three plan to cherish.

"The basketball season is so long, especially with us going as far as it can go," Hake said, "and at some point, you're just ready to have some extra time to yourself. But it's a great feeling to be back with them, and you realize how much you missed it since state.

"I love playing with them, and it's even better when you can soak it all in and be more focused on having fun."

While Hake and her teammates admit they are a little amped up to win again, they're ready to enjoy a lighter atmosphere than the pressure-packed environment of their season finale at Normal's Redbird Arena.

There's no pressure Thursday at Musgrove Fieldhouse. Just a chance to spend one more basketball game enjoying each other's company.

"You're just trying to get into the flow, because you're a little rusty," Grisham said. "But the little things that go wrong, you can kind of just go with it because it's all a little more fun. I think I've been laughing through everything since we started playing these all-star games."

"That's what we've always been doing, is just having fun," Walker added. "When you're on the floor in games like these, you're really not as worried about the score. When we're having fun, that's when we play well, and everything else takes care of itself."

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