The Dixon Duchesses enter their Class 3A Mendota Regional semifinal matchup on Wednesday less than a week after facing Mendota in conference play.
Last Thursday, the Duchesses beat Mendota 46-36 last week at Lancaster Gym, but it’s no sure thing that they can top the Trojans twice in a row.
“It’s hard to know what to expect when you play a team a week before,” Dixon coach Luke Ravlin said. “I’m sure they’ve got some things we didn’t see, so we have to be prepared for anything.”
Mendota’s Amelia Bromenschenkel scored 18 points in the last meeting, but it’s the supporting cast that impressed the Duchesses last week.
“They just play together extremely well, and everybody knows their role,” Ravlin said.
The win over the Trojans and another win Saturday over Genoa-Kingston left the Duchesses with an 8-2 mark in the Big Northern Conference, enough to leave them tied for second in the conference with Winnebago, behind only the Rock Falls Rockets.
“I love the way our girls are playing right now,” Ravlin said. “I think they’re focused, they’re locked in, they know the importance of defending on the basketball court.”
Like Mendota, Dixon has had a strong supporting cast step in and step up its game.
Senior guards Kira Goral, Avery Fox and Emily Lynch and senior forward Zoe Carr have long played major roles in the program, perhaps not as leading scorers, but in doing things like playing lock-down defense, grabbing rebounds and dishing out assists, all the little things that teams need that might not show up in the scorebook.
“They’ve been leaders for us for a while,” Ravlin said. “The thing about that group that’s special is they do whatever it takes to win. Its nice to see them grow and become the players they’ve become, and step into new roles and be comfortable.”
For Ravlin, that comes from the hard work and dedication that senior class displays.
“They’re a group that’s always known what it takes to be good,” he said. “And that combined with a great spirit where they’ve been welcoming to the younger kids that have come in and we’ve been very blessed to have that.”
Goral, Fox, Lynch and Carr were all starters the last time the Duchesses took the floor in a postseason game, a regional final loss at Lancaster Gym to Rockford Lutheran a year ago. Sophomore playmakers Caylyn Kimmel and Abby Guthrie saw significant playing time off the bench in that game.
So the Duchesses will not walk into the gym at Mendota this week with any sense of unease at playing a win-of-go-home game.
Ravlin said his team will treat every game the same way, and that extends to even the practices leading up to that postseason game this week.
“Just want to get a little bit better every day,” Ravlin said. “If you make it more than that, it’s kind of silly. We’ve been doing the same things all year long. We’re trying to have good practice and get our game plan set.”